Sabbs and Pro VC to visit Auschwitz camp

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Three YUSU Sabbatical officers are set to visit Auschwitz this November as part of the Lessons from Auschwitz project. James Durcan, Union President, Steph Hayle, Community and Wellbeing Officer, and Finn Judge, Student Activities Officer, will be joined by Professor Deborah Smith, University Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research.

The Lessons from Auschwitz project, ran jointly by the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Union of Jewish Students, has been running since 1999, with over 34 000 students and teachers having taken part in it. Funded by the Department for Education, the course has a four-part structure; beginning with an orientation, then visiting the sites, before reflecting on the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust, and designing a plan to take action, spreading the lessons of the Holocaust.

On the trip, the officers and Pro VC will hear from a survivor of the Holocaust on what Jewish life was like pre-war and spend a day visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp alongside museum exhibits on 19 November. Follow up workshops to help the officers reflect and take action will be led by Holocaust Educational Trust Educators to allow the officers to share their learning from the trip on the University campus; the fourth stage of the structure.

Public awareness of the issue of anti-Semitism has reached a new high in recent years due to the growing anti-Semitism scandal in the Labour Party. Growing fears within the Jewish community have encouraged educational organisations to increase their efforts in raising awareness about the horrors of the Holocaust. This includes visits to former murder camps.

Professor Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: "This is an important visit and I'm honoured to represent the University and the senior leadership team on this trip with the YUSU sabbs."

In a joint statement, the YUSU Sabbatical Officers told Nouse: "We were delighted that this opportunity was offered to us as it was to all UK universities. We believe it's important for leaders to constantly learn about all aspects of inclusivity, and this project is one example of how we do that."

The end of last academic year saw reports that a previous YUSU officer had allegedly made anti-Semitic comments about a University staff member. While a question was put to the current YUSU Sabbatical Officer team regarding their visit in light of these reports, their response did not address this question.

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