News Article

Union Assembly vote on Keele SU Israel-Palestine position

Update from Emergency Union Assembly meeting on the 6th June 2024


Last week, Keele SU Elected Officers called an emergency Union Assembly meeting to adopt an official position on the ongoing conflict in Israel Palestine. They proposed a motion to be considered and agreed by Union Assembly. This meeting happened on the 6th June 2024 and we can now update our members on the result of this meeting.  

What is Union Assembly? 

Union Assembly are your elected student delegates. They represent different groups of students, with reserved places for students from different communities and demographic groups. They vote on policy submissions brought forward by students. You can see your Union Assembly delegates here: 

Why has it taken until now? 

Students have been invited to create a policy suggestion through our “Have Your Say” function on our website. This is the primary democratic mechanism for mandating student union action. However, a suggestion has not been created around the conflict. But as per recent comments on posts, as well as our speak week cards and various other forms of communication, Elected Officers received sufficient feedback to create a motion on the conflict.  

As charities, Students’ Unions are severely restricted on the political activity and positions they can adopt. This is because the Students’ Union's charitable goals primarily revolve around enhancing students' education, welfare, and overall experience at the University. 

Adding to this, Charity Commission guidance specifically states: 

“[SU’s] should not comment publicly on issues which do not affect the welfare of students as students.  For example: 

  • the treatment of political prisoners in a foreign country” 

Were we to adopt a position and take action beyond our charitable objectives, we could be breaking the law and could face significant consequences. We can issue a statement that reflects the position of our members, as long as we receive democratic mandate to do so. Union Assembly is where we discussed and adopted this stance.  

The context seen above, and the recent peak in students voicing their opinion, is the reason the SU and elected officers have acted at this time and not any sooner. 

What happened at the meeting? 

Members discussed and voted on the motion proposed by elected officers and amendments were made to the motion. The final wording of the policy motion and therefore official position of Keele SU is as follows:  

  • With reference to the recent ICJ ruling and loss of innocent lives Keele SU calls for an immediate ceasefire on both sides and immediate return of all hostages in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict and condemns the loss of those lives.  
  • The SU continues to stand against all forms of hate, particularly regarding Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Anti-Arab Racism and review their hate crime campaigns to be more effective in tackling these crimes.
  • It is important that student activism is supported by the organisation. Elected officers will work with students to lobby for divestment as well as support other actions when deemed appropriate.
    • Lobby Keele University to Update their Ethical Investments Policy, with feedback from the Students’ Union taken into account
    • Encourage Keele University to review its unethical research and investment portfolios  
    • Submit an agenda item to University Student Voice Committee and create a platform for open discussion with University Senior Leadership Team and attending students.   
    • Keele University Students Union should reflect on their own investments and have a document which reflects such

What actions will we take now? 

Elected Officers will communicate our stance with Keele University and will take the actions mandated in the motion with immediate effect. As the current elected officers finish their elected term at the end of June, any outstanding actions will be delegated to the incoming officer team.