The following motion was agreed by the all-members general meeting on 14 October. (The minutes of that meeting are subject to approval of the all-members general meeting on 25 November.)
This branch notes:
- The worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II with millions fleeing their homes looking for refuge in Europe.
- Since 2000 around 30,000 migrants or refugees have died in their attempts to reach or stay in Europe, with the highest figures recorded in the past two years.
- The continuing plight of refugees in Calais and elsewhere in Europe escaping from war, political oppression, poverty and violence.
- The demonization of migrants and asylum seekers by the media and the government.
- The inadequate response by the Tory government, for example, only allowing in just 20,000 refugees by 2020 on a temporary basis in the first instance, and only from camps in the Lebanon.
- The heartening public response to the crisis e.g. collections, donations etc.
- That the University of Leeds is collaborating with Leeds City Council to promote Leeds as a City of Sanctuary.
- That other universities such as the University of East London have committed to offer at least ten postgraduate scholarships to Syrian refugees.
- We note with regret the absence of any concrete action on the part of the management of the University of Leeds to deliver significant resource in support thus far of the refugee communities.
This branch resolves to
- Contribute to ongoing solidarity action occurring on campus such as the collections by students and to donate to local Leeds charities in support of both asylum seekers and migrants in need, both locally and internationally.
- Campaign and pressure the government to accept substantially more refugees and offer them permanent status in the UK, including Syrian and other refugees escaping violence in the Middle East and beyond.
- Adopt a ‘Refugees welcome here’ position and to promote this in the wider union movement, as an important means of reinforcing the principle of solidarity at a time when cuts in public and welfare services and a hostile media make migrants and refugees easy scapegoats.
- To pressure the University of Leeds executive to host the second public meeting of Leeds City of Sanctuary on the 21st October or the following one.
- Play an active role in developing a discussion with senior management at the University of Leeds to explore internal ways in which the university can effectively provide short- and long-term assistance for refugees/asylum seekers, including the development of scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees and support for educational activities such as ESOL classes for migrants.
- Commit to a longer term campaign that goes beyond expressions of solidarity and collections of usable goods and includes initiatives that involve us as educators in promoting a culture of welcome and inter-cultural dialogue on our campuses, involving students from all backgrounds.