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Calls for Vice President of KCLSU to resign after BDS speech ‘incited hatred’

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VICE President of the Students’ Union is facing calls to resign after his speech on last night‘s BDS motion was labelled “distasteful” and “intimidating”.

Students voiced concern about VP Areeb Ullah’s behaviour at the Student General Meeting after he shouted “shame on you” to those who believed we should only be focusing on this campus, rather than world issues.

He was speaking in relation to the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel over their occupation of Palestinian land.

Ben Judge, a member of the KCLSU Trustee Board, spoke to Roar! in his personal capacity: “Areeb has once again stepped over the mark. … He has once again made many ask the question ‘does he actually care about students’ academic affairs?’ – his job.

“His behaviour at the debate over the BDS motion was unnecessarily angry, incited hatred, blame and guilt upon many and frankly was despicable. Many students will now be pushing for his resignation.”

The motion passed with 348 votes for and 252 votes against during a 3 hour long debate which involved a range of student issues.

In response to the comments, Areeb said: “I have not heard any official calls for my resignation but I am happy to meet with any student who has any concerns.”

‘Heckling from both sides’

Sara Abbas, a friend of Areeb’s, said: “I’m shocked to see him being vilified for his views, especially as they clearly resonate with other students such as the 348 voters who supported the BDS motion yesterday. It would be undemocratic to call for Areeb to resign.”

Alberto Torres, who spoke in favour of BDS, said: “There was indeed heckling from both sides, and it was wrong.

“It was disrespectful. In spite of all, we had a spirited debate which proves how strong a democracy we have at KCL, chaired with the utmost professionalism by the SU President Sebastiaan Debrouwere and Student Officer Anthony Shaw.

Speaking about Areeb, King’s student Jonathan Raj posted on Facebook saying: “[He] has made distasteful remarks and comes across as an intimidating bully. He has dishonoured his office and if he has any personal integrity and ethics left in him, he’d resign.”

‘KCL doesn’t support boycotts of academic institutions’

The BDS motion has been sent to a meeting of the KCLSU trustee board this Thursday, where members will be tasked with deciding whether the motion supports the charitable objectives of the union, as well as judging its legality and practicality.

All motions referred to the Trustee Board are debated and it is unclear whether any decision will be made at that meeting. At present, not all  twelve trustees have seen the motion.

Speaking about BDS in his official capacity as KCLSU President, Sebastiaan Debrouwere said that the SGM gives students the chance to put forward potential policy, “whether that be to make change to their time at University or a difference in the wider world.”

He added: “As a Students’ Union we are there to facilitate healthy and respectful debate amongst our student community, especially around issues that have such strength of feeling.”

In reaction to the passing of BDS, a statement from King’s College London said: “As knowledge is worldwide, King’s College London does not support or engage in boycotts of academic institutions. Universities depend on freedom of speech and freedom of enquiry, which are fundamental to both teaching and research.”

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