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Home Article Considerations for higher education institutions around ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ activities

Considerations for higher education institutions around ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ activities

Published: 01/03/2017

ECU are aware that a number of higher education institutions (HEIs) may be experiencing tensions in their campus communities during a period of events under the umbrella of 'Israeli Apartheid Week'.

Institutions will have particular procedures in place regarding the organisation of events and hosting of external speakers on their campuses. These procedures will balance the importance of freedom of speech, and the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) to protect their staff and students from discrimination and harassment, and to foster good relations between different groups of people with protected characteristics.

ECU’s guidance for institutions on promoting good relations between groups emphasises the importance of working in conjunction with students’ unions, providing transparency in decision making, and providing reporting mechanisms for all staff or students who experience harassment on the grounds of religion, race or any other protected characteristic.

Our key principles for good relations include:

  • Equality: acting swiftly to challenge discrimination, harassment and bullying in all its manifestations.
  • Respect: framing the right to self-expression within the context of respect for others; encouraging dialogue about the issues that connect and divide individuals and communities, discussing prejudice; challenging preconceptions and assumptions.
  • Security: creating a safe environment for staff and students free from intimidation, harassment and fear; tackling hate crime; challenging views that promote violence or otherwise deny human rights.
  • Unity: providing opportunities to learn about difference and identify common ground; promoting the benefits of developing knowledge and skills that improve personal and communal relationships.
  • Cooperation: taking a proactive approach to conflict resolution that is fair, consistent and transparent.

Our guidance document also discusses the legal framework around balancing different rights on campus, and includes case studies around:

  • invitations to external speakers
  • protests
  • displays of notices, distribution of literature and electronic communications
  • students’ unions

ECU will be updating its guidance for universities around religion and belief in 2017 – we look forward to working with the sector to provide further resources and frameworks to assist with work in this area.

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