The National Union of Students called for Monday to be a national day of action against Students’ surveillance.
This year Counter-terrorism and Security Act made it a legal obligation for colleges, universities, and Schools authorities to monitor their students’ behaviour amidst a counter-extremist strategy known as the ‘Prevent duty”.
The co-ordinated day of action taking place on campuses across the UK includes flyering, meetings, photo campaigns and protest action.
“The government’s argument that most terrorists go to schools, then Schools are considered a terrorist hotspot, is the same as saying 90% of the population get their groceries from Tesco, so Tesco is a terrorist hotspot,” Said Malia Bouattia, Black students’ officer at NUS.
The participating students are taking it to social media platforms to populate their opposition under the hashtag #StudentsNotSuspects
— Jamie Cross (@cross4jamie) December 7, 2015
Not all campuses across the UK are taking part, for example, University of Westminster students’ union are still consulting with its members before taking action. The sabbatical team have concerns about the prevent agenda.
Not only the students opposing it but also Newham councillors from Stand Up to Racism and Newham MEND have issued a statement criticising the government’s programmes to stop people turning to extremism and terrorist violence as “divisive” and leading to a “breakdown in trust”.
“It is with particular concern that we have witnessed the impact of the government’s recent Counter Terrorism Act, and measures taken against so-called ‘non-violent extremism’ under the government strategy Prevent. ”
Despite claims to the contrary, ‘Prevent’ almost exclusively targets young Muslims for the views they hold on religion or issues such as government foreign policy. Schools and teachers are cast in the role of spies on our young people. This is leading to increasing division and to a breakdown of trust in schools and colleges” Said the statement.
Weyman Benett from Stand up to Racism campaign in Newham said that the only thing the prevent duty does is to prevent young Muslims from talking freely about their concerns, which might turn them into radicals.