Back to boycott basics

July 23, 2015

Audrey Osler’s extraordinary statement that earlier this year Soas, University of London “held an institution-wide referendum on an academic boycott of Israel, backing it by an overwhelming majority”, needs to be put in context (“Giving a voice to the voiceless in Israel”, From Where I Sit, 16 July).

The “referendum” was actually held at the behest of the Soas students’ union. The ballot was not authorised, sponsored or supported by those charged with the governance of the institution. The 1,283 student votes cast in favour of the boycott amounted to only 15 per cent of the total Soas student enrolment, while the 182 staff members (excluding contract workers) who voted in favour accounted for only 22 per cent of all Soas employees.

Hardly “an overwhelming majority” is it?

Geoffrey Alderman
University of Buckingham

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