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Everyone is welcome to attend our Mature & Part-Time Meet and Greet at 10am this Friday!
This week the Research Student Consultative Forum convened to discuss pertinent PhD issues involving work spaces for PhD students. Some of the key issues that departmental PhD representatives discussed were:
I am currently clarifying information on how to present potential solutions to the above (see next week’s email!).
However the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey shows that overall, the PhD experience has been less satisfying as compared to its Russell Group peers in the areas of supervision, resources, progress and assessment, etc (for more, see Table 2 below. Also read the attached actual report, that is attached). I would love to speak with you to see how these results compare with your experience, and what we can do to improve your experience.
The best place to start is by replying to my blog post. Otherwise, join me at Delauney’s on Thursday, 12 December between 2 and 4 pm to discuss with other PhD students these issues.
Enjoy your last week of term!
By Mohamed Harrath and Rayhan Uddin
At a time when hate crimes against Muslims are rapidly rising in the capital (up 92.3% in the year to August 2013 according to the Metropolitan Police), the second annual Islamophobia Awareness Month, happening this November, could not have come at more apt a time. Whilst events and exhibitions held on campuses across the country to raise awareness about this pernicious form of prejudice are crucial, what is most important at a time like this is that students of all backgrounds stand alongside their Muslim classmates to say that hatred, prejudice, and bigotry are unacceptable and ought to be challenged. That is why we are proposing a motion at this week’s UGM urging students to say no to Islamophobia, especially when directed at Muslim students.
How the ‘campus extremism’ debate fuels Islamophobia
At a recent conference on campus extremism at the LSE, featuring experts on the issues of extremism, freedom and security, there was a consensus view amongst the speakers that the debate on campus extremism has been exaggerated and distorted creating a climate where Muslim students are increasingly demonised. Indeed, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, has consistently sought to redress this misconception by explaining that there is no evidence of a link between “student radicals” and violent extremism, a view endorsed by the Home Affairs select committee report on ‘The Roots of Violent Radicalisation’. So why all the hysteria?
In his book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, Nathan Lean argues that “the tide of Islamophobia that is sweeping through Europe and the United States is not a naturally occurring phenomenon”, he insists it is the “design” of a network of anti-Muslim bloggers, politicians, pundits and religious leaders who have been all too successful in whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment with all its devastating consequences.
Photo Credit: Takes from LSESU Islamic Society Facebook
Organisations such as Student Rights, a supposedly ‘non-partisan’ group, yet which has strong links to the hard-right Henry Jackson Society, an organisation who’s senior staff features Douglas Murray, who infamously argued that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder,” has continuously sought to inflate fears of campus extremism. This injurious campaign has had a detrimental impact on the welfare of Muslim students by feeding into a climate that increasingly demonises them. In turn, this has contributed to a climate of suspicion surrounding Britain’s 100,000 Muslim students, who nonetheless work tirelessly to build more inclusive and accepting educational environments.
(For example, Student Rights has been instrumental in motivating far-right groups, including the notorious English Defence League, in their efforts to intimidate Muslim students at campus events in Essex, Nottingham, Reading and other towns and cities across the country.)
It’s also worth noting that the organisation has zero input from actual students, and further diminishing credibility in face of the growing calls for the organisation to cease its activities.
Liam Burns, former President of the National Union of Students, was right to express his concerns about Student Rights and condemn the organisation’s tactics in seeking to divide students at a recent meeting in the House of Lords, a sentiment I know is shared by many students’ union leaders up and down the country, including our sabbs here at LSE.
If Student Rights wants to play a positive role in contributing to more inclusive and cohesive campuses, they ought to have a radical rethink of their approach to questions on faith, the public square and campus life. But until then, organisations that serve to inflame Islamophobia on our campuses ought to be made aware that students, regardless of their political leanings, will not sit idle whilst a hostile campaign of intimidation and bullying is waged on some of the more vulnerable in their number.
Muslim student contribution
Muslim students contribute immensely to their campuses and are an integral part of our national fabric. The annual ‘charity week’ has raised a total of £2.4m since its inception in 2004. Not bad for a bunch of students living on shoestring budgets. Or there is the Islamic Society at Oxford University which organised the ground breaking ‘Rethinking Islamic Reform’ conference in 2010, demonstrating the leadership of Muslim students in grappling with the big questions of faith, politics, identity and citizenship. And even on the question of campus extremism, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) held a conference with leading experts and stakeholders in 2011 and supported another one organised by the LSE Students’ Union this year. Who can say then that Muslim students do not play a key role in enriching university life and building inclusive campuses?
The problems faced by Muslim students met with an often indifferent and silent mainstream, the problem is only becoming exacerbated. The increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Britain has had disastrous consequences for the inclusion of Muslim students in civic society. It’s time we took a stand against hate and bigotry and put an end to the demonisation of Muslims on our campuses.
Here is the full version of the motion we are proposing at this Thursday’s UGM.
An incident occurred on Thursday afternoon at the LSESU LGBT Alliance’s stall on Houghton Street. Remarks were made to members of the LGBT Alliance that were deemed homophobic, violent and intimidating. LSESU and the School want to reiterate that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated. We fully support the LGBT community at LSE and want to ensure that our campus remains an open and respectful environment. The Union and the School are thoroughly investigating the incident. Should you have any concerns, please email Matt White, the LSESU LGBT Officer (email@example.com) or Peter Howlett, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Professor Paul Kelly Anneessa Mahmood
Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning Community and Welfare Officer
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