Student politics has always been a site of radical dissent. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this. It is perfectly legitimate to question the wisdom of conventional beliefs or government policy. However, a line must be drawn.
In recent years, the National Union of Students (NUS) has promoted “Students Not Suspects”, a student-led campaign which calls for the abolition of the Prevent strategy. It tells Muslim students that they are being deliberately targeted by a racist government. Moreover, it brings extremists onto campuses to spread hatred and intolerance, and encourages student unions to boycott Prevent, a necessary counter-extremism policy which safeguards vulnerable students.
Since becoming official NUS policy in 2015, “Students Not Suspects” has received support from academics, student unions, trade unions and others. A new report published by Student Rights and The Henry Jackson Society – Tolerating the Intolerant: A Report on ‘Students not Suspects’ – reveals that the campaign has effectively become a vehicle for extremist interests. It advances extremist tropes, extremist speakers and extremist narratives – all the while attacking anybody, NUS officials or otherwise, who distances themselves from its position.