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UK student conference: driving forward campus BDS

Credit: Ryan Ashcroft

Students from over 35 different UK universities converged in Manchester at the weekend for a national conference on campus Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigning.

The two day gathering included workshops on researching universities’ complicity with Israeli apartheid, effective divestment campaigning, building coalitions on campus, winning the case for BDS, media as a campaign tool, and mobilisation and ‘rapid reaction’ on campus.

As well as gaining new skills and knowledge, sharing tip from BDS victories and building new links, students heard from a range of speakers including Huda Ammori of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Alia Malak of War on Want’s Palestine Solidarity Project and Alys Samson Estapé from the Boycott National Committee.

Credit: Ryan Ashcroft

People and Planet’s Lucy Auger shared ideas and inspiration from the successful Fossil Free ethical investment movement at UK universities, while Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Ibtehal Hussain offered insights into the militarisation of universities and how to push forward the Stop Arming Israel campaign on campus.

Adie from Manchester Palestine Action emphasised the need for bold BDS campaigning to shame universities and the importance of building pressure from below ending involvement in Palestinian oppression.

Students honed their analysis of the nature and history of Israeli apartheid, reflected on intersectional campaigning on campus and developed an understanding of how Freedom of Information requests can be used to uncover data on university investments.

Credit: Ryan Ashcroft

Participants discussed future coordination plans for taking forward BDS on campus. They also collectively resolved to hold a national campaign day to call for all UK universities to divest from Israeli apartheid on 29 November, the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

PSC’s range of new merchandise (including four original t-shirt designs) and the brand new ‘10-Step Guide to Starting a BDS Campaign on Campus” – which will soon be available online – were well-received too. Students described the weekend as “energising” and “inspiring”.

Zobia Khan from Kings College London Action Palestine (KCLAP) society said: “I can say in full confidence that PSC’s BDS conference was the most beneficial Palestine conference I have ever attended. The weekend has equipped me with the knowledge, strategy and confidence necessary to start a BDS campaign on my campus – thanks to PSC, I am excited for the year ahead!”

Credit: Ryan Ashcroft

Huge thanks to all those who attended this fantastic activist weekend and the groups and individuals who made it possible, including the Boycott Israel Network (BIN) and many others.

Are you a student looking to get more involved in practical solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle through BDS campaigning on campus? If you’d like support or resources from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, contact [email protected].

Credit: Ryan Ashcroft