AUJS statement on encampments at universities

Since the horrific attacks of October 7th, Jewish students across Australia and New Zealand have faced an unprecedented increase in fear, intimidation, and harassment. Jewish students have been targeted at university events and demanded to declare their political stances during classes publicly, with their orientation week stalls vandalised. As a result, many Jewish students have decided to avoid their university campuses altogether. This is completely unacceptable in Australia.

Now, with encampments at Australian and New Zealand universities that mimic those seen at Columbia University in the United States, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) is deeply concerned that we are witnessing a further escalation in the vilification of Jewish students. We are seeing the glorification of violent terrorism against Jews, with public displays of support for Hamas alongside radical, non-student external actors entering campus. If students who praise Hamas aren’t reined in, we risk going down the pathway of the United States – where students who chant calls for the destruction of Tel Aviv and globalising of the intifada and ‘O Al-Qassam [Brigades], you make us proud, kill another soldier now!’ have made an impossible and unsafe environment for Jewish students. We must do better.

We will always defend robust debate, but racial vilification is never acceptable – no matter against whom it is directed. And these students are vilifying Jews with threats, intimidation, harassment, and the endorsement of terror organisations committed to destroying the Jewish State.

AUJS has been in correspondence with the Federal Education Minister’s office, the Shadow Education Minister and various vice-chancellors to articulate the concerns and experiences of Jewish students.

In response to the escalating concerns on campuses, AUJS is calling for the following:

  1. A roundtable with the Federal Education Minister, state education ministers, and university vice-chancellors.
  2. Universities must stipulate, implement and enforce clear policies that prohibit hate speech on campus.
  3. Universities must require students to show their student identification to ensure that external extremist actors do not hijack our campuses.
  4. Universities must provide more support, including counselling and security measures so that students may feel psychologically and physically secure on campus.

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The following quotes can be attributed to Noah Loven, President of AUJS:
“Jewish students are being vilified, and we are calling for universities and government to do more to tackle these groups who are being openly hostile towards Jewish students.

It’s simply not safe for many Jewish students on campus at the moment, and it’s unacceptable that many feel they cannot attend their lectures and classes in person without fear of intimidation, harassment and violence. This is not an issue of free speech – it is of vilification and the endorsement of terror. Some of these extreme groups are crossing the line, and that’s why we’re calling on universities and government to do more to ensure campuses are safe again for all.”

AUJS is the peak representative body for Jewish student societies across Australian and New Zealand universities. AUJS is committed to ensuring our campuses remain safe and inclusive spaces for all students.