Mr Percy, who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, urged public bodies to adopt the Definition in comments in Parliament last week, saying that “this applies to universities as well where we have a big problem with antisemitism on campuses”. In particular, he singled out “universities like Warwick, whose Vice-Chancellor is refusing to sign up” to the Definition.
The Vice-Chancellor declined to adopt the Definition because it did not offer “any added value,” declaring that the university would not “formally adopt individual definitions of specific forms of discriminatory behaviour.” The Vice-Chancellor explained that “to adopt one would inevitably lead to the adoption of a whole series of such definitions.” The university, however, would be “mindful” of the Definition.
The decision was criticised by the Warwick Jewish Israeli Society, which, following Mr Percy’s comments, reiterated its call on the university to adopt the Definition. The president of the Society said that the reference to the university’s refusal to adopt the Definition in the House of Commons “is a damning indictment of our university”, adding: “Enough is enough. The university should finally listen to Jewish students and adopt the Definition without delay.”
The university’s Students’ Union also criticised the Vice-Chancellor’s decision, noting that the university has adopted a “revamped Sexual Misconduct policy” because “it was widely agreed that a specific definition of sexual misconduct was a given for an effective process to be formulated.” It concluded that “we cannot therefore place our trust in the university to take racism seriously – particularly in the area of discipline – without an equally specific definition of what racial discrimination actually entails. It is unacceptable for victims of racism to constantly have to explain and unpack their experiences in order to be taken seriously.”
It is understood that negotiations on the matter at the University of Warwick will continue.
Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has made several calls on universities, as well as local councils, to adopt the Definition, warning that those that do not may be named and shamed and have their funding cut.The Universities Minister, Chris Sikdmore, has also called on universities to adopt the Definition.