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  1. ITV Report

Row erupts after some University of Essex students vote against Jewish society proposal

The University of Essex in Colchester. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The University of Essex will relaunch a vote on whether to set up a Jewish Society after some students originally voted against the idea.

There was outrage from local MPs and members of the student union after some students raised objections about the prospect of a society being created.

The result of the vote also prompted a strong response from the Union of Jewish Students, who described it as "deeply disappointing" and "shocking", while Countdown presenter Rachel Riley tweeted: "The cancer that is antisemitism is spreading."

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However, in a statement sent to ITV News Anglia, the University of Essex Students' Union confirmed that they believe there was an "irregularity" which meant the original vote was compromised and they'll now open a fresh poll on Friday.

"The application for a Jewish Society was approved by the Societies Guild Committee on Tuesday 12 February and was put online for students to vote upon," a spokesperson said.

"This morning, the Students' Union was made aware of an irregularity which allowed non-society members to vote in the ratification. As soon as this was brought to our attention we investigated and as a result have declared the current vote null and void, due to us no longer being able to ensure the vote has been free and fair.

"This irregularity has now been resolved, and we will open a fresh vote on the ratification of Jewish Society tomorrow which will run for three working days as per the Societies Guild constitution. Only members of the Societies Guild will be eligible to vote. We look forward to a free and fair vote concluding next week."

In addition to the fallout of the vote, the university have promised to investigate allegations that a lecturer wrote an offensive post on Facebook opposing the society.

"We have clear guidelines for student and staff conduct and we have zero tolerance towards harassment or hate crime and will always take appropriate and proportionate action," said a spokesperson.

“We are looking into the allegations as a matter of urgency in accordance with our zero tolerance policy.”