Outgoing National Union of Students (NUS) president Larissa Kennedy has denied claims Jewish students were told they should segregate themselves from the audience at planned concert featuring the conspiracy theorist rapper Lowkey.
Questioned about the claims that Jewish student leaders had been told they could avoid the rapper’s live set at an NUS liberation event by using the area normally reserved for disabled people, Kennedy told a parliamentary committee: “That was not said.”
Kennedy, who it was claimed told Jewish students to “self-segregate” at a meeting with Jewish student leaders in March, appeared before the Women and Equalities Committee in Westminster on Wednesday to discuss issues around racism in higher education.
Labour’s Carolyn Harris used the session to raise concerns about the allegations of segregation, which were made in the run-up to the NUS centenary celebrations in March, which included an appearance, that was eventually cancelled by Lowkey.
After denying the allegation Kennedy referred to the “ongoing investigation” into the NUS, which was announced last month, over allegations of antisemitism.
She said she hoped the probe would “bring to light the realities of what was said.”
The student leader, whose term of office has now ended, added:”We have been a complete open book when it comes to launching this investigation swiftly and wanting to work proactively with the Union of Jewish Students.
“We want to see when marginalised students raise issues they are addressed swiftly.”
Conservative MP Elliot Colburn raised concerns that the NUS had previously investigated antisemitism claims in 2005, and yet the allegations have again resurfaced.
Colburn also raised UJS concerns that Kennedy’s successor at the NUS, Shaima Dallali, was someone they had “big concerns about when it comes to dealing with antisemitism.”
Kennedy said she was now “really proud” there is “close cooperation” with UJS, adding she “deeply regrets we are at this point.”
She then spoke of the need for “transformative action” to look at the “structures of racism that exist.”
Kennendy later denied claims there is a “hierachy of racism” as viewed by the NUS leadership.
She said:”A lot of students and young people talk about the fact there is no oppression Olympics.”
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