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On Monday 15 August 2022, a motion relating to actions in support of Palestine was moved by a student at the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Students’ Council. This motion was considered following the same process as all valid motions put to Students’ Council.
The motion was debated publicly and passed 16 votes to three with one abstention. Minutes from the meeting will be publicly available once they are confirmed at the next meeting of Students’ Council and will be accessible on UMSU’s website. The resultant policy has been incorporated into UMSU’s Stance Booklet which can also be accessed on our website.
UMSU considers that the motion is robust, was supported by appropriate consultation and was passed with due diligence by Students’ Council.
UMSU recently engaged an independent agency to facilitate a consultation process with relevant stakeholders, including pro-Palestinian and Jewish bodies on campus. This consultation process was conducted to help inform Students’ Council about student perspectives on this topic. It was not conducted for the purpose of preparing a motion. The consultation process was completed on 1 August 2022.
UMSU and its predecessor organisations, has maintained a 130-year tradition of students standing up for human rights issues, including those relating to international affairs. This is consistent with the purpose, mission and values of UMSU.
UMSU continues to encourage respectful debate of international affairs on campus and deplores and denounces bigotry and hate speech in all its forms. Following research, consultation and engagement, UMSU does not believe that supporting the Palestinian cause and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is anti-Semitic. This is a position that is shared by many organisations and commentators around the world, including the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.
Our highest priority, as always, is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students. UMSU has a diverse student body and Students’ Council regularly considers motions on issues about which people feel passionately – as always UMSU encourages all students/stakeholders to engage with each other respectfully.
UMSU provides a number of resources to support the health and wellbeing of students. These can be accessed here.
If you or anyone you know feels unsafe on campus for any reason, or you are aware of any incidents involving student safety – please email UMSU Manager, People and Culture, Martina Smythe.
Additionally, there are specific resources available if you are on campus:
Importantly – if you feel unsafe moving across campus the security escort service is available to staff and students. Should you wish to use it - it can be arranged by phoning campus security or through the SafeZone app.