Students at Cambridge University were embroiled in controversy yesterday (October 10) after they rejected plans to honour Britain's war veterans on Remembrance Day.
Proposals for honouring Britain's military veterans 100 years after the end of the First World War were kicked out during a heated debate by the university's students' union council.
The motion was described by some objectors as "imperialist propaganda".
The row came after Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA) had proposed a motion to the students' union council (CUSU).
The motion proposed that the council should "encourage the commemoration of British war veterans on Remembrance Day across the University of Cambridge".
But it was replaced by an alternative version which removed the words 'British war veterans' and 'Remembrance Day'.
It proposed that the council “encourage the commemoration of those whose lives have been affected by war across the University of Cambridge”.
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Timur Coskun, chairman of CUCA, said: "We think this is ridiculous. All we wanted to do was raise money for veterans.
"It's such a shame that you don't see many students wearing poppies around Remembrance Day.
"For them [CUSU] to vote our motion down is downright disgusting."
He added: "This is the 100th year since the end of the First World War and for CUSU not to recognise that is just not right. It's disrespectful."
Cambridge Defend Education activist Stella Swain, who put forward the changed motion, said it was “vital that we recognise all different background and dont just focus on British war veterans”.
Her new version saw the phrases "British war veterans" and "Remembrance Day" crossed out.
It also scrubbed out the notion that the "general valour, courage and heroism of serving and formerly serving members of the British armed forces is deserving of our sympathy".
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Neither motion supported
At a vote during a council meeting on Tuesday night, students initially accepted the new version.
But a final vote later saw it scrapped altogether – including the original – with members saying the amended motion was too vague.
Neither motions were supported.
CUCA responded on their Facebook page, writing: “CUSU Council shockingly voted against the motion that they should promote commemorations this Remembrance Day and encourage students to support the Poppy Appeal.”
The group slammed the crossings out on the changed motion, saying: "This is a Students' Union that literally wants to erase our memory and gratitude to war heroes who sacrificed so much for so many."
But Demilitarise Cambridge, which campaigns to end the Universitys links with arms companies, said the original motion's "insistence on supporting 'British' troops to the exclusion of millions of other victims of war is jingoistic, imperialist propaganda".
Ms Swain told student newspaper Varsity that “for many people, war is not something that can be consigned to the past, and the original motion's focus on remembrance as 'valorising' war instead of working to end its devastating impact is deeply disturbing.”