Response to the Chair of the Cardiff University Conservative Association from the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students - 20.05.2021
Thank you for your recent letter which calls on Cardiff University to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.
As you recall in your letter, our Vice-Chancellor recently recommended the adoption of the IHRA definition, together with the additional clarifications proposed by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Our governance processes require that discussion of significant matters of this kind are considered at the appropriate university committees.
The definition was discussed in detail at our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Sub-committee and a vote was taken to recommend adopting the definition, although this vote was not unanimous. In February, Senate considered the adoption of both the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. Recognising that the adoption of particular definitions – even those that command support across the sector – can lack clarity in relation to the very groups such definitions seek to protect, Senate recommended that we should pause and engage in further discussion on this matter.
The issue was therefore appropriately brought to University Council for advice. Council considered the matter scrupulously. It agreed with the points made at Senate and concluded that adopting selected religion- or race- specific definitions may have the unfortunate consequence of appearing to exclude other faith groups or races in relation to whom definitions are not adopted. Avoiding such a potentially divisive situation was key to Council’s decision not to adopt either definition. Further, Council was clear that the University’s existing policies, which sit within wider legislative frameworks, are robust.
Fully committed as it is both to safeguarding all our students and staff no matter their religion, race or belief, and to confronting discrimination and racism in all their forms, the University pledges to continue carefully to evaluate the effectiveness of those policies.
The University already references the IHRA definition in a guidance section on our staff and student intranet relating to the institution’s Dignity at Work and Study policy, in which antisemitism is explicitly identified as behaviour that is completely unacceptable. Our Disclosure Response Team provides expert support to any student experiencing hate crime, including those on the grounds of religion, and we actively remind students that this service is available to them on a regular basis.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Yours sincerely,
Pro Vice-Chancellor Education & Student Experience