Israel and Gaza: a message of support for all in our community

The University and Leeds University Union continue to express their  support for all in our community who are being affected by the terrible ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza and its devastating impact on all in the region.

We know that many of our staff and students are finding this to be an incredibly difficult and distressing time and some are experiencing significant anguish and upset. The University and LUU are working closely to maintain the cohesion, safety, and support of our communities including meeting regularly with student societies, our chaplaincy colleagues and local, regional and national representatives to listen to concerns and identify what more we can do.

We know communities at universities nationwide are experiencing similar distress and challenges and we are liaising with colleagues nationally to share best practice and ideas to provide support for staff and students.

 At this incredibly difficult time, we urge everyone to understand that staff and students may be feeling afraid , uncertain, or unsafe . We celebrate the fact that we are a diverse and inclusive community and this is demonstrated in our compassion and providing support for one another. 

We have a number of support mechanisms which we urge staff and students to use. These are detailed below. We are also committed to identifying if there are additional  services required  to better support our community. 

Preventing antisemitism, Islamophobia or abuse

We would also remind students that antisemitism, Islamophobia, abuse, or harassment of any kind is  not acceptable  – on campus or on social media.  In the current context we would highlight that support for proscribed organisations such as Hamas is illegal.

Reporting abuse 

If any student  experiences or witnesses any harassment or abuse, the University’s Harassment and Misconduct team will help students. Please report incidents via the Report and Support portal or via email to reportandsupport@leeds.ac.uk.  The SafeZone app can also be used to ask for help – this is linked directly to the University’s Security team who are on call to help you 24/7. Our on-campus Security team also operates 24/7 and is available to support any member of our community (contact 0113 343 5494)

We would urge the reporting of all incidents as this is a key way in which  we can understand experiences and take appropriate action..

If you would prefer to report an incident to external community-led organisations, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has a welfare hotline that can be reached on 020 7424 3288, and Tell MAMA is able to support those facing Islamophobia on 0800 456 1226.

Support for students

Our University counselling and wellbeing services and Leeds University Union continue to offer students help, advice, and a safe space to talk about any concerns and issues. 

Find out more about support

 Any students  experiencing anxiety or wellbeing adversely impacting  their studies, please contact your School to discuss support or mitigating circumstances. Leeds University Union Help & Support service can also provide impartial advice and support around mitigating circumstances and wider support.
Recognising that student clubs and societies may require additional help to support their members, and to respond to queries  from external partners, organisations, or media outlets, the Leeds University Union Activities Team is available to  provide support you activities@leeds.ac.uk.

Vigils, protests and freedom of speech

There have been  expressions of solidarity through vigils, and  protests on or close to campus, where supporters  have freely voiced their opinions and expressed their feelings. The University is committed  to supporting free speech within the law, which means a shared tolerating of a wide range of views while  respecting the rights of others. Our position is underpinned by our Freedom of Expression Protocol.

However, we would remind everyone of the legal limits of free speech. Antisemitism, Islamophobia, abuse, or harassment of any kind is not acceptable. The University does not support any views or actions which seek to exclude or make Jewish, Muslim or any other people unwelcome on campus. We therefore remind  all members of our community that they must  treat each other with respect and courtesy, be mindful of the language they use and consider the impact that it can have on others, whether unintended or not.
The Parkinson steps are frequently a gathering place for wider public protests. Where these have not have fallen within the University of Leeds or Leeds University Union approvals process, or where we consider there are wider public order or security risks, the University’s security staff have been in attendance alongside West Yorkshire Police, to ensure the safety of our campus community.

Strength in community

The strength of our community is rooted in its diverse and global nature and we benefit hugely from that rich diversity. This is something that we must  value, cherish and protect through  difficult  times.  We urge all in our  community to stand together and support each other, a key part of  our University values of compassion and inclusivity.
The University and Leeds University Union will continue to work in partnership and do everything we can to support our community and as we enter the new term in 2024, we will continue to listen and respond to your concerns and ensure that appropriate and effective support is provided for students and staff.
 
Professor Hai-Sui Yu
Interim Vice-Chancellor and President University of Leeds
 
Aidan Grills
Chief Executive, LUU

9 February 2024