Ten things students’ unions can to do support #IAM2017

Monday 13-11-2017 - 14:22

This week, our Gendered Islamophobia and Students not Suspects tours kick off in London before heading to unions around the county. Here are ten things students’ unions can do to support Muslim students during Islamophobia Awareness Month and beyond.  

As Islamophobia Awareness Month continues, NUS Black Students’ Officer and NUS Women’s Officer are leading tours around the country to get people talking about and taking action around Prevent and gendered Islamophobia. Here they share ten things you can do to support Muslim students on campus and beyond.

There is so much information freely available on understanding Islamophobia – where it originated, how it impacts the lives of Muslims, and what you can do to stand in solidarity with Muslims. Do your research and learn what you can. It’ll help you be a better ally. 

Get in touch with Muslim students on your campus
Whether as a member of the Islamic Society, through liberation campaigns or as a course rep, Muslim students are engaged with students’ unions in different ways, speak to and build relationships with them, think about how you can support them, and the events and campaigns you could organise together on your campus.  

It happens here
Within the student movement and other political movements, Muslims students and officers have been labelled as radical by different groups looking to score political points. Recognise the importance of the language you’re using. For too long students of colour and Muslim students within NUS and the wider student movement have been labelled “far left” as a means to dismiss their valid concerns about institutional racism and Islamophobia – stop using the term as it exists in such a racialized way. Even if a Muslim student is a communist, their concerns about structural oppression are still valid and shouldn’t be perceived as political attacks. Reflect on your language, you should know better.

Speak out
Incidents of Islamophobia take place every day. If you witness it, call it out. Let’s make sure we are all taking it on ourselves to support those facing abuse and calling it out every single time.

Mental wellbeing  
When thinking about mental health campaigns and services, be aware that people do experience poor mental health as a result of racism and Islamophobia. When thinking about mental health on your campus, think about the what specialist support you might be able to arrange for them.          

Look at your processes
Quite often you’ll find Muslim students hesitant about engaging with the students’ union – quite often this can be due to the union’s processes. Take, for example, visiting speaker requests – have the Islamic society or Palestine Solidarity Society or other campaigns centring on students of colour been disproportionately flagged as having contentious speakers? Don’t replicate wider societal paranoia – sit down with these societies and look at how your process might be replicating wider societal oppressions and how you can make changes to combat this whilst also increasing engagement from Muslim students.

Students Not Suspects
Come to the nearest stop of the Students not Suspects tour and pass a motion at your student council or AGM to boycott Prevent. Prevent has been shown to operate in a racist and Islamophobic manner within which students of colour and Muslim students are more likely than others to be labelled as “radical” for challenging the status quo. Start to push back on this and let it be known that your students’ union will not comply. Students’ unions have no legal duty to comply with Prevent, so don’t!

Muslim Students Survey
Last week, we launched the Muslim Students Survey, the first research of its kind, we want to know more about the experiences of Muslim students and sabbs on campuses across the country. You can help us promote the survey to Muslim students on your campus: get it out on social media or include it in your email updates.

Gendered Islamophobia
Muslim women face a triple penalty in the UK – being women, being women of colour (the overwhelming number of Muslims in the UK are people of colour) and being Muslim. Within this grouping, there are further disparities such as Black Muslim women bearing the brunt of racism, sexism and Islamophobia. Make sure your events platform women so their stories are amplified. Work to make campus safer for them, and make sure when they need support, they know where to turn. 

Muslim Women in Leadership Conference
On Tuesday 5 December, we’re hosting the Muslim Women in Leadership Conference in North London. We want to inspire a new generation of Muslim women leaders and support them to flourish in environments where the odds are against them. Know a Muslim woman student you think would benefit from the event? Support them to get to the event.

We all have a role to play in supporting marginalised people better and together we can do more for Muslim students.

In solidarity,

Ilyas Nagdee, NUS Black Students’ Officer
Hareem Ghani, NUS Women’s Officer  



Black, Features, Women

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