Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Decent Front?

Harry's Place can't leave well alone, can they? Via Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, I've come across a body calling itself Student Rights. (Its website is currently down, though it seemed OK when I looked at it earlier today. The error notice says "Please try back Monday ." Hello? Also, love the space before the period. PHP concatenation gone bad, there.)

There's an 'About' section, and I always read those (I'm waiting for some blogger to out himself as single, pimply, balding, drunk, angry etc; so far, no deal). Their aims as I recall, are fair enough: apart from the question why does this need a body at all? If a student organisation using university funds or premises is doing something offensive, isn't it the union's job to sort it out? Student Union officials are elected, and, if you have any faith in democracy, they seem like well-placed people to deal with such matters. And then there's the NUS, which I don't know how many universities are affiliated to these days. That seems likely to provide a sort of 'court of appeal.' (I haven't been a student for a long time, so have little idea how these things work.) Student Rights doesn't seem to have any connections with actual student bodies - but I can't check this, because the site is down.

What I do remember are the people on its board. Chair: Denis MacShane. Not a student, or a recent graduate, but a 60-year-old full time MP. Others, that bloke from Standpoint, Brian Brivati, I *think* Shiraz Maher. None of them connected with higher education at all. [Update: thanks to commenter CCK: Brivati is a professor at Kingston. I should have been clearer: none are students or recent students. I believe students are adults, and they have democratic systems. In short, I don't believe they need protecting by either professors or MPs.)

They seem worried about Muslims. Are there no students who support the EDL? There have been students who were pro-apartheid. (*Cough* Seaman Staines *Cough) Didn't Cambridge award a degree to Nick Griffin? *Sits back and awaits outrage at that*


Anonymous CCK said...

Brivati is professor at Kingston.

10/11/2010 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Thanks, I should have checked.

10/11/2010 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

you can still look at the SR website via google cache and actually it all looks to be working once you bypass the front page. looks like they've not even published anything about this latest UCL thing on their own website.


Student Rights is a non-partisan group dedicated to supporting equality, democracy and freedom from extremism on university campuses. We were set up in June 2009 as a reaction to increasing political extremism and marginalisation of vulnerable students on campus.

Led by National Director Raheem Kassam, the organisation consist of various interns, student activists and sources as well as an advisory board.

thir manifesto:

1. To represent student’s rights to freedom of speech and freedom from oppression
2. To maintain a non-partisan stance and be inclusive of all viewpoints and ideologies
3. To campaign and lobby within Student Unions on behalf of our liberal democracy
4. To bring together individuals or groups with previous animosity and open discussions
5. To maintain contact with regular information feeds regarding the activities of Student Unions, for the usage in sharing best practice advice

hmm. looks like a single-person operation, and that person in question (Kassam) is a member of conservative future...

10/12/2010 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

'Student Rights' - working to shut down speech (of Muslims) and ban associations (of Muslims) since 2010?

Are these the same people who get real, bulging hard ons when defending the 'free speech' of white racists and fascists?

10/12/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

There was something of an exposé of this in the ULU newspaper a year ago I seem to recall.

10/12/2010 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Students Rights "Annual Review" -

"How to give...
Supporting our work from anywhere in the world couldn’t be easier.
With charitable status in the UK & 501(c)(3) status in the United States, you can be assured that your contributions remain tax exempt and are going through the
reputable Henry Jackson Society, our partner organisation.
You can send a cheque to:-
‘Student Rights’
c/o the Henry Jackson Society
210 Pentonville Road
London, N1 9JY
Or contribute quickly and easily online:-
Click here to donate now

10/12/2010 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...


10/12/2010 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With charitable status in the UK & 501(c)(3) status in the United States, you can be assured that your contributions remain tax exempt and are going through the
reputable Henry Jackson Society, our partner organisation.

hmmm. I'm not an American charity lawyer, but it seems odd to me that a British organisation which isn't a registered charity should be able to solicit donations under the umbrella of another charity's 501c3 registration. Student Rights isn't a Companies Act company or a registered charity (or at least, no company or charity of that name shows up on a search). It doesn't give any information about who or what it is on its website and the donations page is just a PayPal link. The "" is registered to "a non-trading individual" called Neil West. Kurios, Oranj.

10/12/2010 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

curiouser and curiouser. In Feb 09, it was advertising for a National Organiser with a salary of £22-25k. That's quite a substantial organisation (although it doesn't seem to list any full time staff on its website, so maybe things got scaled back), given that it solicits donations from the public and doesn't seem to have any corporate identity at all.

10/12/2010 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous dd (above ones were me, too) said...

yet more!

on his Standpoint author page, we have "Raheem Kassam manages the counter-radicalisation pressure group 'Student Rights' from within the Henry Jackson Society".

So it is, as far as I can tell, a project of the HJS; I suppose this was obvious from the fundraising link, but "partner organisation" is a but confusing IMO (specifically, it confused me). I don't understand why this isn't made clearer on the website - the perhaps unworthy thought strikes me that connection with the HJS might have adversely affected its popularity, but can this really be true - I would doubt that one student in a hundred had ever heard of Henry Jackson, let alone the society.

10/12/2010 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

That's what I assumed from the 'funding via our partner organisation' business. Pretty thin.

It's not necessarily that they are embarrassed to be associated with the HJS- it's proliferation as a strategy - same people, different think tank/ charity/ campaign/ whatever. All quoting each other like some kind of fact-laundering carousel fraud, and exerting pressure via the well known democratic principle of 'one pressure group one headline'. This appears to be a particularly pisspoor attempt, but I think that's the point of it.

10/12/2010 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

disambig: I mean the point was to proliferate, not to be pisspoor

10/12/2010 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh ho! Denis MacShane reported to police over expenses claims. My original thought re MacShane's involvement was that he was essentially CV padding: chairing committees which met rarely and did nothing, but made him seem important, influential, and busy.

Eight laptops in three years! He must have mates in the Security Services, no one else is that careless.

10/14/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

"the perhaps unworthy thought strikes me that connection with the HJS might have adversely affected its popularity, but can this really be true - I would doubt that one student in a hundred had ever heard of Henry Jackson, let alone the society."

Except a quick Google and quite a few of those other ninety-nine students are going, 'oh, it's not an organisation devoted to Student Rights, but a front of an organisation devoted to the continued military domination of the world by the US.'

10/14/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well, I'm probably going to be banned for life from HP Sauce. If I disliked Student Rights before, I hate them now: why can't they say they link to a bloody massive PDF for their Annual Review. (Almost worth it for the history bit - "A history of influence/Since Student Rights was founded in 2009" lulz) Oh and I've written to Student Rights via their contact page to notify them that MacShane has had the whip withdrawn and may soon be an ex-MP.

I wanted to catch up on Comrade Cohen, but Standpoint isn't forthcoming:

Currently, the username is standpoint123 and the database server is localhost.

And the password is password no doubt. And they said that the news would go back to being bad when the last Chilean miner was free. Let there be dancing in the street.

10/14/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Student Rights Advisory Board as of 14/10/2010 15:39 GMT should they ever wish to update it.

10/14/2010 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Presumably, this Raheem Kassam:
When Jonathan Hoffman, notorious clown and Vice-Chairman of the Zionist Federation got up to attack Bongani as an ‘anti-Semite’ etc. he was, quite rightly, vigorously heckled. Note he wasn’t, like anti-Zionists at Zionist meetings, physically attacked, punched etc. Two weeks, yes two weeks later, the heckling of Hoffman had become anti-semitic!
Apparently ‘Jewish’ and ‘Jew’ had been hurled at him. He hadn’t complained at the time but when a Tory student activist, Raheem Kassam made this allegation, Hoffman suddenly realised he was a victim!

10/17/2010 12:28:00 PM  

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