Student union president quits following WW1 mural destruction vow
In the weeks prior to this year's Remembrance Day, the president of the University of Southampton's student union sparked outrage by vowing to destroy a memorial commemorating those students who died during the First World War, bemoaning the fact the memorial only featured 'white men'.
The memorial in question is a mural, located in the university's Senate Room, which depicts a degree being handed to an unknown soldier. This was painted in 1916 by Sir William Rothenstein as a tribute to those who fell in the war and so could not collect their degrees.
Union President Emily Dawes attacked this mural for its whiteness, vowing the following on Twitter:
"Mark my words - we're taking down the mural of white men in the Senate Room, even if I have to paint over it myself"
🏫 | Emily Dawes originally objected to the fact that the First World War mural only depicts white men. https://t.co/sjK9SmhPaH
— Forces Radio BFBS (@ForcesRadioBFBS) November 20, 2018
According to The Telegraph, Ms. Dawes has also commented: "ONE OF THE WOMEN JUST SAID "it's nearly armistice day so are we covering up this tapestry??" AND HOLY S***. F*** YES. GRL PWR."
Unsurprisingly, Ms. Dawes words sparked outrage and, despite offering her apologies by claiming she 'acted impulsively' and hadn't intended to cause 'offence [or] disrespect', a petition calling for her to resign from her position has been signed over 21,000 times.
— Sam FM News (@samsouthnews) November 20, 2018
Indeed, the MP for Southampton Itchen, Royston Smith, responded to the vow by stating it was 'in poor taste' to 'disregard the heroic sacrifice of soldiers who sought to defend the very freedoms, including free speech, which [Ms. Dawes] has chosen to exercise.'
As such, Ms. Dawes has now confirmed that she will be standing down as president of the union, which many will be rejoicing about.
The University of Southampton has released a statement highlighting that 'we respect Emily's decision and will continue to provide her with support.'