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Written by Student Rights on 14 February 2014 at 5pm

An open letter to the LSE student union

Last week the Student Union at the London School of Economics (LSESU) published a letter to our director Raheem Kassam. Here, we publish a response:

LSESU’s recent letter outlining its position on our work is based on a motion which is made up almost entirely of falsehoods, misrepresentation, and malicious insinuations, and which was voted through by less than 4% of the LSE’s students.

As such, we are disappointed with the institution of a ‘no-involvement’ policy on the basis of this, and believe that it reflects extremely badly on LSESU’s commitment to challenging intolerance.

We are also deeply concerned that the student union has endorsed a motion which makes a number of false and potentially defamatory  claims, and will be contacting the LSE to express our feelings on this matter.

These claims include a suggestion that we oppose the ‘No Platform Policy for the BNP, something which is simply a lie; our organisational position is that we fully and unequivocally support the NUS ‘No Platform’ policy for the BNP.

They suggest that we were formed to challenge pro-Palestinian activism, reporting Mr Kassam as saying something he categorically denies, and attack us for disproportionately targeting Muslim students, something which completely ignores our consistent coverage of far-right campus extremism.  

The motion also attempts to smear us by quoting Douglas Murray’s comment on Muslim immigration. This statement, which Mr Murray has since recanted publically, was made three years before we were formed by a man who has no input into our work, and is a clear attempt to damage our reputation by implying that we hold such views.

LSESU’s letter repeats this quote, and also suggests that all senior staff at the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) have stated such views. This is not true, and should be withdrawn immediately pending further action. The claim that HJS is “hard right” is also a lie given the organisation’s cross-party support, and is a baseless and divisive smear.

Finally, both the motion and LSESU’s letter claim that we have no connection with or support from students, a lie which ignores that fact that 118 of LSESU's members voted against the motion, something which undermines the claim that this policy represents the opinion of LSE students.

This claim is further weakened by the fact that an LSESU-affiliated student society has stated of the motion:

“...it seeks to stigmatise an organisation working to protect students across the country as ‘Islamophobic’ simply because it reports on the presence of extremist speakers on the UK’s university campuses, and that this is an attempt to silence the group that has worked the hardest to call out fascists at British universities.

....Student Rights have supported us when we have been persecuted. We assert that they condemn anti-Muslim bigotry and prejudice as strongly as we do, and we reject outright the claim that they are 'Islamophobic'.

We believe that the allegation is a crude attempt to besmirch their good name for no reason other than that their objective findings contradict the politics of the proponents of the Motion”.

LSESU finishes its letter by stating that it seeks to build more inclusive campuses, yet it has recently been forced to apologise for harassing students wearing ‘blasphemous’ t-shirts, while the motion mandates support for the ‘Real Student Rights’ campaign (which has sought support from extremists including Hamza Tzortzis and Moazzam Begg), hardly the model of inclusivity.

Here at Student Rights we will not let unsubstantiated smears and false allegations prevent us from opposing extremism and intolerance on campus regardless of its source, and will continue to work with the many students at LSE and beyond who share our concerns.