Preventing Prevent on Campus
This guide is for activists wanting to take part in campaigning in
opposition to the Government’s Prevent duty and other
implications of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA). It
provides suggestions for actions you can organise on your
campus and in your community.
The fight ahead.
In order for us to create the groundswell of resistance required to overturn Prevent and make it practically
unworkable, we need to organise on a big scale – amongst staff and students and across communities.
One key principles used in militant unionism is ‘Educate, Agitate, Organise’ (sometimes referred to as ‘the
apathy staircase’). This is key in ensuring our students are informed of the issues relating to the Prevent
duty, appreciate the injustice of it and are willing to take collective, sustainable action.
So the first factor to consider in this campaign is knowledge sharing. We need students and staff to be aware
of Prevent, aware of the damage it is and will be causing through fostering suspicion and facilitating
Islamophobia and most importantly - aware of how to tackle it.
The #StudentsNotSuspects tour, as well as workshops and briefings provided by NUS and the NUS Black
Students’ Campaign, was a first step in educating. The tour visited more than a dozen campuses across the
UK and had over 700 attendees with 30+ Students’ Unions participating. It brought together student officers,
trade union representatives, activists and faith group leaders. It caught the attention of the national media
and displeased the Minister for Universities. The campaign is having an impact, but we need more ground
covered, and local organizing is the only way we will achieve the level of consciousness required. So, over to

Spreading the Word
Firstly, speaking to the students most likely to be affected by the duty is key in understanding their concerns,
experiences and ideas for campaigning. We recommend in particular making contact with your Islamic
Society, Black and international students’ networks, campus trade unions and anti-cuts and environmentalist
groups. These are all groups who have been disproportionately targeted by Prevent – in particular students
who are visibly non-White or Muslim.
Communicating what Prevent is and why it’s a pile of sh*t doesn’t have to be difficult and technical – it can
even be fun. Here are some ideas activists have come up with:

You know the drill. Stand in busy areas on campus with a stack of leaflets that succinctly explain the issue
and hand them out. Think about what information you want to include and if there is anything relevant
locally – a referendum coming up or an instance of Prevent monitoring that needs highlighting for example.
Include at least one ‘action’ students reading it can take, even if it is a follow-up to check the hashtag or
come to a meeting. Team up to flyer so there’s a few of you to give you more motivation.
If you don’t feel comfortable actively handing out leaflets, consider putting them under doors in halls, or
slotting them into books in the library.
If you want to provide students or staff with more extensive information about what Prevent is, NUS’s Black
Students’ Campaign has created a handbook which can be downloaded and ordered online.
Find out when big lectures and events are taking place and politely ask the facilitator for a couple of minutes
at the beginning. You can use this chance to reach a large audience to introduce the issue of Prevent and
encourage students to get involved with the campaign. Most of them will be on their phone or laptop if they
are in a lecture, so consider challenging them to an on-the-spot tweet.

If you aren’t sure when and where large lectures are happening, speak to student activists who may be able
to put in a word and get you invited in. Or speak to trade union reps that are more likely to be sympathetic
and willing to let you speak. If you need support writing a short speech, feel free to get in touch.
Make a short video of you or others explaining the issue. Short campaign videos work best, usually no longer

than 1 minute 30; so briefly outlining what is Prevent, why is it so awful and what can students do (educate,
agitate, organise!). Strathclyde Students’ Union created a video along these lines and used it as a means for
promoting their Students Not Suspects event. If you are unable to film one, you could use someone else’s
although a recognizable face putting the issue into a local context is much more likely to resonate with your
‘Prevent Patrol’
Using guidelines from Prevent and Channel training, you could consider creating a checklist and using it in a
parody ‘spot check’ to introduce students to the issue. Previously, guidance has referenced students who feel
anxious or who question UK foreign policy. These are all common experiences of students and demonstrate
just how flawed the Prevent duty is.
Print out copies of your checklist and approach students asking if they have time for a ‘quick survey’. If they
say ‘yes’ to any of the so-called ‘radicalisation’ red flags, inform them that they could be referred to Prevent.
This is a good way of opening up a conversation, allowing them to emphathise with those targets, and a
chance to pass on some further information. Feel free to be as theatrical as you want to be – but be sure to

make it clear you aren’t a genuine Prevent officer!
NUS Black Students’ Campaign has created a poster which features some of the examples used in Prevent
training workshops in the past.

Sharing stories
Case studies can be a really effective tool in communicating just how unjust the Prevent duty is if they may

not be directly targeted by it. There are a number of stories in the media that you can reference, either in
conversation or by publishing them online, featuring them in your flyers and so on.
A few examples:

 A university student in Birmingham was questioned for their involvement in Living Wage activism.
 One schoolboy was referred to Prevent officers for wearing a Palestine badge and another for using the term ‘ecoterrorism’.
 A postgraduate studying counter-terrorism was questioned when seen reading one of their core textbooks in the library.
Having students speak first-hand about their experiences can be powerful, but bear in mind not everyone will be
comfortable doing so. Consider hosting an event where you can invite external speakers in to recount their experiences and
get in touch if you need help finding guests.

Make it visual
Photo campaigns
For maximum impact, make your campaigning really visual, and take photos that can be used to publicise
what you’ve been doing.
Students at SOAS set up a stall and asked students to write reasons why they oppose Prevent with the hash
tag and shared the photos on social media.
When sharing on twitter, use the #StudentsNotSuspects hash tag so more people see it in context and if you
have access to more than one account, make use of all channels. Tweets with photos, videos or gifs are more
likely to get noticed. The same goes for Facebook, and make sure the posts are ‘public’ so others can share
and interact with them. Tagging individuals will increase the reach of photos as people’s friends will see it on
their newsfeed.

NUS has also created a ‘pledge’ sign (below) which you can download and print – get in touch if you want a
Cover campus
Think of creative ways to spread the campaign on campus in ways that people cannot avoid. Think posters in
the toilets and lifts, stickers inside textbooks and symbols students can wear to start conversations. The

below design is the NUS campaign badge which you can give out to students to wear. Get in touch to order
some, or use the graphic to print stickers and plaster them around:
If you’re holding an event, stall or just want to draw attention to the campaign, consider making a sheet
banner. Getting students together to design and paint it could be done in the run up to a day of action and as
an event itself will help publicise the campaign.
Even if you don’t have an action, simply dropping a banner from a prominent spot on campus (a window or a

bridge for instance) is a small act of resistance that will grab attention. Make sure to share photos!
Other ideas activists have come up with include hand-stitched patches (credit to Jo Swo at UEA), stickers and
…or accessorize virtually by adding a twitter or facebook twibbon:

Other tactics

Build a network
Joining the national Preventing Prevent facebook group can put you in touch with other activists, but
establishing local networks is crucial for supporting students on the ground and delegitimising Prevent on
campuses. We mentioned the need to reach out to the staff and students who could be primarily targeted by
the duty, and build alliances.
FOSIS (the Federation of Students’ Islamic Societies), which represents Muslim students nationally, is one of
the founding organisations of the #StudentsNotSuspects campaign; and most trade unions have similar
policy to NUS on Prevent. On campus, this is most likely to be UCU, Unison, NUT and Unite. You can use
this model letter as a starting point for contacting trade union reps, and if you don’t know who the UCU
branch secretary is, you can find a list of regional officers here.

Consider writing a joint statement between your Student
Union and trade unions and sending it to university
management outlining your requests in relation to Prevent.
Organise a meeting with staff and students and get the
trade union branches to publicise it. Statements and
meetings can be the groundwork for establishing support

networks, so that should students be targeted by Prevent there are developed groups who are able to advise
them of their rights and challenge unfair monitoring practices.
Stopping the function of something does not have to mean a physical withdrawal of labour or a road
blockade. Direct action tactics in the past have included encouraging as many students as possible to send
emails to a specific target, call a hotline, or write letters and postcards.
Traditional protest methods such as static demonstrations, marches and occupations can all be great ways of

raising awareness and getting more people involved. Consider your target and location carefully: is there a
particular institution you want to bring attention to? Is the location accessible to those taking part?
This could be a static stunt, with a group convening in a visible area holding the ‘I will not comply with
Prevent’ signs, or with tape over their mouths as a symbol of the silencing of Prevent. It could be taking a
group to the Registrar’s office and refusing to leave until you reach a certain commitment relating to the
implementation of Prevent; or it could be a stunt that targets a Government figurehead who is accountable
for the policy.
Some of the most impactful actions on campuses have focused on pre-existing events; such as open days of
big university committee meetings. Sometimes, the leverage is not necessarily about disruption but
reputational damage.

Share it, share it, share it!
As well as sharing on all social media platforms, speak to traditional local and student media, even national if
you have contacts. The more creative the tactics, the more likely it will get news coverage, and the more we
can assert the importance of this issue to a wide audience, the greater our likelihood of winning. So try to

grab some headlines!
If you require support in writing a press release about any of your action, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Pass policy
You could pass a policy through your students’ union, mandating officers to not comply with Prevent and
share it widely to raise awareness. As of December 2015, more than 30 Students’ Unions have passed noncompliance policy. NUS Black Students’ Campaign has published a model motion you can adapt.
Request Information
Find out what your institution’s approach to the duty is and try to influence it: contact the institution’s
secretary or registrar, using this model letter. If you don’t get a satisfactory response, you can write
a Freedom of Information request to establish what contact your institution already has with Prevent officers.

Get in touch
For extensive information about Prevent, its history and implications and the organisations working to
counter it (as well as impose it); download the Preventing Prevent handbook.

For immediate support and advice, contact Shelly Asquith (Vice President, Welfare) or Malia Bouattia (Black
Students’ Officer) at NUS:


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