Students shouldn’t be suspects (1516P30)

Status: Active | Zone: Student Life

Passed: 02/08/2016 | Lapses: 01/07/2018

This policy was discussed at the following meetings:

  • 1.       The Government’s Contest programme, an overarching counter-terrorism strategy, which was introduced in 2011.
    2.       The Government’s Prevent strategy, part of Contest, which aims to “reduce the threat to the UK from terrorism by stopping people from becoming terrorists, or supporting terrorism”.
    3.       The Government’s Channel programme, another part of Contest which aims to provide “support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism”.
    4.       The Counter Terrorism and Security Act of 2015 in conjunction with the Counter Extremism Bill of 2015, which expanded the scope of Prevent and Channel, making it a statutory obligation for public bodies including universities “to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. These are hereinafter referred to as Prevent duty and Channel duty.
    5.       The Government’s published guidance on the Prevent duty, which requires bodies covered by Prevent to monitor individuals, groups, and events for signs of extremism.
    6.       The Government’s published guidance on Channel duty, which identifies engagement factors (or psychological hooks) and together “map the individual pathway into terrorism” in Annex C, as below:
    •      Feelings of grievance and injustice
    •      Feeling under threat
    •      A need for identity, meaning and belonging
    •      A desire for status
    •      A desire for excitement and adventure
    •      A need to dominate and control others
    •      Susceptibility to indoctrination
    •      A desire for political or moral change
    •      Opportunistic involvement
    •      Family or friends’ involvement in extremism
    •      Being at a transitional time of life
    •      Being influenced or controlled by a group
    •      Relevant mental health issues
    7.       Figures released by the National Police Chiefs Council in response to Freedom of Information requests, which show the number of Channel duty referrals to be rising significantly since the expansion. In 2014, the number of individuals referred across all age groups was 1681 (of 6306 since 2007). In 2015, the number of individuals referred across all age groups was 3955. 2629 of these referrals were for “Islamist extremism”.
    8.       The ‘Students not Suspects’ campaign, a joint initiative from the National Union of Students (NUS), the University and College Union (UCU), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) and Defend the Right to Protest (DtRtP), in addition to the Educators not Informants campaign, which have been working together to lobby the Government to repeal the Prevent duty.
    9.       The open letter organised by the Students not Suspects campaign which calls upon the Government to repeal the Prevent duty, and (at the time of writing) is signed by over 470 academics, students and lawyers.
    10.   The Preventing Prevent national conference in London on 4th June.
    11.   The ‘Valuing Diversity Policy’ (1011P19) which says that “it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure there is no discrimination and that all are treated with respect and dignity”.
    12.   The NUS Policy entitled “Preventing Prevent” which was passed at its National Conference in April 2016, which reaffirms the NUS’ commitment to working with other organisations in opposition to Prevent. 
  • 1.       That terrorism and extremism in all its forms must be condemned, and all Governments have a responsibility for taking positive steps towards tackling these problems.
    2.       That discrimination (including but not limited to racial profiling) and hate crimes for whatever reason must be condemned, and that in line with Notes 11, we must all do whatever we can to tackle these, individually and collectively.
    3.       That educational institutions should be centres of free speech and intellectual debate, and a place where an individual may develop their ideas without the fear of suspicion and persecution for doing so.
    4.       That the engagement factors listed in Notes 6 covers a very broad range of people, and could lead to individuals who are classified as vulnerable adults/children being placed under unnecessary stress.
    5.       That Prevent duty and Channel duty cannot be considered as a positive step towards tackling terrorism and extremism, as they could encourage an atmosphere of suspicion based upon racial profiling and negative stereotyping which is not conducive to a strong, positive-thinking society.
    6.       That Prevent duty and Channel duty are threats to the right to freedom of speech, and are leading to self-censorship due to the fear of suspicion and persecution across the educational sector.
    7.       That we as a Union are insufficiently aware of the wider national campaign against the Prevent duty and Channel duty and of the University’s implementation of them.
    8.       That members of the University Community should have access to:
    a.       Information about the Prevent duty and Channel duty and the University’s implementation of them on a factual basis.
    b.      Advice and support if they or anyone they know are affected by the Prevent duty.
    That before active steps to oppose Prevent duty and Channel duty are planned, proposed and implemented, the relevant officers must undertake research and consult with students and relevant managers at the University of Southampton.
  • 1.       To condemn terrorism and extremism in all its forms.
    2.       To condemn discrimination and hate crimes.
    3.       To reaffirm its commitment towards tackling discrimination and towards ensuring that all are treated with respect and dignity.
    4.       To express concern towards the Prevent duty and Channel duty and the impact they may have on students, including the potential for racial discrimination and limiting free speech on campus.
    5.       To develop an action plan based upon further research and consultation including but not limited to:
    a.       By sending a delegation of representatives from the Union to the Preventing Prevent conference in London on 4th June.
    b.      By making contact with other Students’ Unions with policies of opposition to the Prevent duty and Channel duty to discuss their views.
    c.       By consulting with students from a wide range of backgrounds, and with each Zone committee.
    d.      By consulting with relevant managers at the University of Southampton.
    e.      By consulting with the Southampton branch of the UCU to discuss their views.
    6.       To form a stance in line with the feedback from student consultation, by the beginning of the 2016/17 academic year.
  • 1.       The Union President and Vice-President Welfare to ensure sufficient consultation takes place in line with Resolves 5 by the end of the 2015/16 academic year, with a view to carrying out Resolves 6.
    2.       The Vice-President Democracy & Creative Industries to ensure an ongoing dialogue between student groups and the University on potential impacts of the Prevent duty.
    3.       The Union President and Vice-President Welfare to meet urgently with the University to highlight the concerns from students.
    4.       The Union President to decide on the size and members of the delegation to be sent to the conference in line with Resolves 5a.