Students Not Suspects
RUSU has a Students Not Suspects policy and is dedicated to supporting students who have been discriminated against due to PREVENT.
PREVENT is a government agenda pitched as a defense mechanism against terrorism by monitoring for potential ‘radicalisation’. It actually has legitimised racial and Islamophobic profiling, pushed more thoughts and beliefs into the bracket of being ‘extremist’ and used to suppress any opposing thoughts to government policy decisions. This suspicion and censorship bought on by PREVENT has found its way onto campuses across the country and Reading is no different. Universities should be a place where people are encouraged to challenge society norms and push the status quo.
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 placed PREVENT on a statutory basis for the first time, meaning that specified institutions including nurseries, colleges and universities must implement and integrate the strategy as a legal requirement.
Marginalised groups of students will now face further institutionalised oppression. This will have a greater effect on international students who already have restrictions placed upon them and for Muslim students there will be increased Islamophobia.
What does PREVENT mean for students on our campus?
- Over-Reporting - Because of the statutory basis, academics are more likely to over-report students as being at risk of ‘radicalisation’ in fear of being sanctioned themselves. This will increase the level of unconscious bias against Black and Muslim people.
- Inadequate Academic Support - The racialised nature of PREVENT may result in Black and Muslims students distrusting their personal tutors or academics. This will affect their contribution in class, engagement and asking for help. Black students are already more likely to drop-out of courses due to inadequate support, this will make things worse.
- Inadequate Mental Health Provisions - PREVENT undermines the relationship between patients and practitioners, as it moves the relationship from trust and confidence to suspicion. Students with mental health issues may not seek help especially because ‘relevant mental health issues’ are being interpreted as a risk factor for radicalisation.
- Self-censorship - PREVENT will suppress free expression and thought on campus. Students who historically have challenged oppression and the government, will be scared into silence or will be monitored and therefore bullied into staying quiet.
- Cancellation of speaker events - Institutions will become more risk averse when dealing with external speakers on campus and impose strict conditions on events (vetting speeches and maintaining tight event formats).
- Reduced Engagement with the Students’ Union - Students that are part of certain clubs or societies (Islamic Societies, Palestinian Societies, Free Education groups, etc.) face a particularly high risk of being monitored or tracked since much of their political activism from Fossil Free dampaigns to BDS campaigns stems from a dissatisfaction with governmental policies.
- Reduced Diversity within Leadership Roles - Certain students may not go for leadership positions within the union because it could be seen as looking ‘power hungry’ or that once in these roles they will come under attack and scrutiny.
To find out more about this campaign please contact your Diversity Officer, Sed Joshi: