Joint UCU, Unison and Students' Union statement on the implementation of the Prevent agenda at SOAS:
SOAS management, under considerable and sustained pressure from HEFCE (since replaced by the Office for Students), is currently intensifying its implementation of the PREVENT policy.
Currently, this intensification is taking a number of forms, most notably: the vetting of external speakers, the inclusion of PREVENT within its safeguarding policy, and most recently the move to give PREVENT training to all student-facing staff.
This is a very worrying development.
Indeed, the PREVENT policy has been repeatedly criticised by public figures and organisations - including the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the UK, the UK's former independent reviewer on terrorism, the three major education unions (UCU, NUT, NUS), and numerous civil liberties groups - for its disproportionate targeting of the Muslim community, its 'chilling effect' on free speech, and its undermining of political freedom.
The implementation of the policy on campuses across the UK has led to a shutting down of the right to organise and debate freely, the targeting of Muslim students and left wing activists, and the policing of prayer room and political events.
We believe that these practices are contrary to the basic responsibilities of any educational institution to uphold the values of free speech, academic and intellectual freedom, and the rejection of all forms of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, or political conviction. It further beggars belief how a policy with such well documented discriminatory consequences would be included in our school's safeguarding policy.
The mandate to prevent the implementation of PREVENT at SOAS was recently reaffirmed by a near-unanimous vote in favour of preventing PREVENT by over 300 students in a Students' Union General Meeting on 23rd March 2018. In the past, all three unions on campus have rejected the implementation of PREVENT at SOAS and called on staff members to boycott any activity in relation to the policy - including training.
In the context of the university's latest push to impose this training at SOAS, we reiterate our rejection of PREVENT and our call for staff to refuse taking part in this activity on the grounds of PREVENT's discriminatory and repressive nature. No PREVENT training component has been negotiated with the Trade Unions, therefore our advice is that staff do not need to attend this training and they cannot face any consequences for not completing the online training. No student is under any obligation and pressure to complete any SOAS organised exercises or trainings on PREVENT if this were to ever be organised.
Please sign the petition here to call on the Board of Trustees to vote down the attempts by senior management to implement Prevent under the guise of a 'Freedom of Speech' policy.
Stand up against the racist and Islamaphobic Prevent agenda! Come to the silent demonstration on Thursday 17th of May outside the Brunei Gallery at 3pm where the SOAS Board of Trustees meeting will be held.