Wednesday 27-07-2016 - 15:28
The Anti Racism Anti Fascism committee is a Special Committee of the NUS National Executive Council (NEC), constituted under NUS Rules 42.8 which states that the NEC will:
- “42.8 form a special committee of the National Executive Council to be named the Anti Racism Anti Fascism committee (ARAF). The conveners of this committee shall be selected by the National Executive Council”
- The composition of the committee is not defined by the rules, other than that the co-convenors shall be selected from the NEC members – there are no defined reserved spaces on the committee for any group or representative.
- In order to resolve ongoing confusion and controversy around the system for the ARAF committee, and in response to heightened concerns around racism and fascism in light of the EU referendum Brexit vote, a motion and number of amendments were submitted to the July NEC meeting last week by members of the NEC.
- The successful amendment 2b resolved to apply an interim system of selecting the ARAF committee for 2016/17, in which the NEC is to elect members to the committee with reserved places for a Jewish member, a Muslim member, an LGBT+ member, an International/migrant member and an Open Place member.
- As an interim policy body the NEC does not have the authority to change the NUS Rules, and the selection process outlined in the amendment applies to this year’s ARAF committee.
- The NUS President and Chair of NEC Malia Bouattia, in consultation with the amendment proposer, has resolved that the election process outlined in the amendment shall be in line with similar processes throughout NUS democratic structures, and reps shall be elected within the NEC by self-defining caucuses, whilst the Open Place rep shall be voted by the NEC on the whole. The interim election process for the ARAF 2016/2017 committee shall be conducted through self-defining caucuses within the NEC for members of the NEC who wish to do so. This means that the reserved place reps on ARAF committee shall be elected by NEC members belonging to the group they represent – self-identifying Jewish NEC members are to elect the Jewish ARAF rep, self-identifying Muslim students are to elect the Muslim ARAF rep, and so on.
- Reports that the motion has removed guaranteed representation for Jewish NEC members, or any other group, are incorrect.
- No such guarantee previously existed under the rules.
- Further, reports that Jewish students are subject to a different process with regards to their representatives on the ARAF committee are also incorrect – the interim selection rules apply to Jewish, Muslim, LGBT+, International and Open Place ARAF committee reps equally.
- The amendment also resolved to ‘work with representatives of student organisations who are affected by racism and/or fascism such as UJS (Union of Jewish Students) and FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies)’ and to ‘facilitate a consultation with: 2016/17 ARAF committee, Faith & Belief committee, NUS Liberation and International Students’ Campaigns’ to help review the way the ARAF campaign functions and to consult on and develop a motion changing the way in which the ARAF committee is selected, to present to NUS’ National Conference 2017. The successful amendment can be seen in its entirety below.
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- Racism and fascism are rising across society.
- ARAF committee is defined as a special committee of the NEC, constituted under the NUS Rules.
- There is currently no clause, provision or process in the Rules as to the composition of ARAF committee, other than the selection of convenors by NEC.
- This includes a lack of any reserved/guaranteed places on the committee for any member of any liberation group, and/or any marginalised group of students.
- Therefore, ARAF committee could theoretically be convened by members who do not define into any liberation group, and/or any group affected by racism/fascism. Conversely, in 2013 the ARAF committee was coconvened by two Black members of the NEC.
- This unclear/inconsistent process for selecting ARAF convenors/committee has long been contentious. Controversy was further ignited following the motion 3:ARAF Convenors, exacerbated by misunderstanding/confusion about the existing process.
- There are demands for greater resources for, and a new system of deciding, the committee. This also indicates that the system of appointing for convenors is inadequate.
- ARAF campaign has a crucial role to play in this time of rising intolerance, and should be a point of political unity across NUS to enable it to be as effective as possible.
- In supporting ARAF we strive to uphold the principles of liberation, equality, intersectionality, selfdetermination.
NEC Further Believes:
- The historic lack of support given to the ARAF campaign has not allowed for it to function to its full potential, so relying on the status quo is untenable.
- Many Jewish students were at the forefront of disaffiliation campaigns due to concerns of antisemitism in our movement.
- Despite only four SUs voting to disaffiliate from NUS, over 13,000 students voted to disaffiliate, with many highlighting concerns of antisemitism in our movement and it’s vital NUS acknowledges this.
- The controversy also highlighted the importance of NEC to consult with those affected by its decisions rather than rushing into mistakes.
- Therefore it is important to open up a consultation on the ARAF committee system among those affected by its work before deciding this new system, to ensure that its work is as inclusive as possible of those groups of students affected by racism and/or fascism.
- NEC cannot change the NUS Rules, but should facilitate a wider consultation into how the ARAF committee/campaign should function in future.
- NEC to elect an ARAF committee comprised of 7 NEC members 2. The committee will have reserved places for:
- a. BSO and BSC NEC
- b. A Jewish member
- c. A Muslim member
- d. an LGBT+ member
- e. an International/migrant member
- f. one open place for any member
4. The committee will also work with representatives of student organisations who are affected by racism and/or fascism such as UJS and FOSIS 5. Facilitate a consultation with: 2016/17 ARAF committee, Faith & Belief committee, NUS Liberation and International Students’ Campaigns into a new system for selecting ARAF committee.
6. Newly formed committee will be tasked – alongside its normal activities – with reviewing the way ARAF campaign functions, to be discussed on the NEC and brought to National Conference 2017.