On September 19th 2015, the Prevent duty came into force for publicly funded higher and further education institutions, as part of the new Counter Terrorism and Security Act. These organisations will now be expected to undertake risk assessments which consider ‘where and how their students might be at risk of being drawn into terrorism’. The duty puts a legal obligation on these bodies to monitor and report on students who may be at risk of ‘violent or non-violent extremism’.
Prevent has been around for a long time, but this new law now makes it mandatory. It recommends monitoring students who appear ‘withdrawn’ or seeking ‘political change’ (this could be anyone going through a tough time - or with an opinion). With the focus on preventing what the government terms ‘Islamic extremism’, the prospect of racial profiling and state-sponsored Islamophobia is all the worse: Black and Muslim students are bearing the brunt of a reactionary, racist agenda, while freedom of speech across the board is curtailed.
To give some context, some recent examples of Prevent Officers’ involvement on campuses has seen:
A living wage campaigner monitored by police for his activism (via VICE)
3 women students at New Vic College suspended for raising concerns (via 5PillarsUK)
A schoolboy questioned by police for circulating political literature (via Al Jazeera)
A conference on Islamophobia stopped from taking place (via Morning Star)
The Students' Union Executive oppose Prevent and strongly believe in fostering a learning environment which allows all students to organise politically, free from harassment
The Students Union will not comply with Prevent and will actively campaign against this agenda that encourages discrimination and limits free speech and expression on campus.
The union will support and advocate students negatively affected by the Prevent agenda.
The union will support the NUS lead on the Students not Suspects campaign.
The Students’ Union officers will express opposition to the Prevent policy and concern with its implementation whenever it is raised at university meetings, and act to ensure the university are adhering to minimal compliance with Prevent.
Policy aims: The University of Sussex Students’ Union should publicly support the people’s vote on the final deal of the UK’s departure from the EU because of the impact it will have on EU, non EU and home students as students.
If supported, the policy will mandate the Students’ Union to:
To have a policy that shows the Students’ Union publicly supports a new vote on the final deal of Brexit.
To present information to Students’ Union members; in the form of print, articles, letters and meetings, on why the Students’ Union supports a new vote.
To consult and encourage all students, specifically those who were unable to vote in the 2016 referendum to raise their own concerns over Brexit and how it directly impacts them, and why they should be granted a new vote on the future arrangements with the EU.