Cambridge University condemns death threats sent to students after Remembrance Day debate

'We condemn the extreme online abuse of our students'

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 15 October 2018 18:15
Timur Coskun condemns death threats sent to Cambridge University students after Remembrance Day debate

Cambridge University students have received death threats after a proposal to encourage more students to commemorate British war veterans on Remembrance Day was rejected.

Following national coverage of the heated debate held by the university students’ union council this week, some members were subjected to “extreme online abuse”, the institution said.

The motion proposed by the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA) called on the university to carry out greater recognition of Britain’s war veterans, especially on Remembrance Day.

But this was replaced by an alternative version which removed the words “British war veterans” and “Remembrance Day” to reflect the university’s status as an international institution.

The amendment also crossed out that the "general valour, courage and heroism of serving and formerly serving members of the British armed forces is deserving of our sympathy".

Objectors who amended the proposal told student newspaper Varsity that they felt the original motion focused on remembrance as “valorising” war instead of working to end its impact.

The university students’ union council decided to scrap the motion altogether after members said the amended motion was too vague. Neither motions were supported by the student body.

Timur Coskun, chairman of CUCA, said: "It's such a shame that you don't see many students wearing poppies around Remembrance Day. 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."

But Cambridge Defend Education activist Stella Swain, who put forward the changed motion, said it was "vital that we recognise all different background and don't just focus on British war veterans".

Demilitarise Cambridge, which campaigns to end the University's links with arms companies, added that the original motion's focus on British troops was “jingoistic, imperialist propaganda".

The rejection of the motion has sparked widespread criticism – and a University of Cambridge spokesperson told The Independent that students' union officers had received death threats .

In a series of tweets on Friday, the University of Cambridge said: “We understand issues like these provoke strong views but we condemn the extreme online abuse of our students.”

The university added: “Thousands of our staff and students mark and contribute to dozens of Remembrance Day events in Cambridge, and will do so again this year.”

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Great St Mary's - the university's official church - will host a Remembrance Day service on November 11, after a Royal British Legion parade from the city's war memorial.

All College Chapels will be holding Remembrance Sunday services – and the Cambridge University Student Union president will lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday.

With additional reporting by SWNS

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