Extremism on Campus - a lesson in denial
In a recent interview to the London Evening Standard, the provost at University College London, Malcolm Grant once again asserted that extremism and radicalisation on campuses was a 'non-issue'.
In a new report, Student Rights has outlined not just why this attitude towards an increasingly virulent threat is irresponsible, but is endangering lives and the reputation of University College London.
- Extremism and radicalisation on British university campuses has been identified by government, think-tanks and independent experts. Against this backdrop, University College London (UCL) provost Professor Malcolm Grant continues to reject the idea that this is a recurring and concerning trend, not least on his own campus.
- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an engineering and business finance student at UCL between 2005 and 2008. During the 2006-07 academic year, Abdulmutallab served as the president of the UCL Islamic Society (ISOC). Eighteen months after he left, Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up NorthWest Airlines flight 253 as it prepared to land in Detroit, Michigan in the United States (US). Upon his conviction in the United States in October 2011, he became the fifth president or executive member of a United Kingdom (UK) based ISOC to be convicted or killed in Islamism-inspired terrorism offences.
- Student Rights, a London-based campaign group, interviewed students and experts about Professor Grant's most recent interview on extremism on campuses, where he claimed the government was 'out of touch' with university life and dismissed concerns over extremism as "stupid?. While student opinion varies on the matter, the experts are widely in agreement about the
existence of extremism on campuses and the threat posed by denying this.
- A wide range of extreme speakers continue to speak on campuses across the UK, including the UCL. In a majority of cases, these speakers are givenunchallenged platforms and presented as 'mainstream' or 'moderate' voices of Islam. Speakers at UCL during Abdulmutallab's studentship included those who have publicly supported jihad and the Taliban, promoted death for apostates,
homophobia and domestic violence, warned Muslims not to integrate into western societies and advocated the destruction of Israel.
- Student Rights calls on Professor Grant to resign his position as the provost at UCL. It is Grants remarks that are out-of-touch, and pose a threat to students as well as the on-going reputation of UCL.
Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights said:
"This report goes to show that universities no longer have the capacity to hide behind denial and public relations efforts - there is no denying campus extremism anymore. It's time for solutions instead."
"In consistently denying the problem, Prof. Malcolm Grant has opened up UCL to repeated criticism, bringing the organisation into disrepute."
"We strongly believe that Professor Grant's position is no longer tenable and that he should consider his position."