Published on November 12, 2013 | by Ellen Thomas

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ULU ban official Remembrance attendance

The University of London Union banned union officials from attending Remembrance Sunday services [flickr: comedy_nose]

The University of London Union (ULU) have come under fire for banning union officials from attending Remembrance Sunday  services in an official capacity.

The incident follows last year’s decision by the union’s then acting president, Daniel Cooper, to abstain from laying a wreath at a Remembrance service in London.

This year’s decision sparked outrage amongst students and politicians, with Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy tweeting that her former union’s decision made her feel “ashamed”.

Jay Stoll, general secretary of LSE’s Student’s Union, wrote an open letter condemning the decision.

Stoll wrote: “Whilst British soldiers were being attacked in the fields of Northern Europe, my family were being savaged in death camps in Poland. If it wasn’t for the lucky couple of my ancestors that escaped to these shores, I can say with certainty that I would not be here.

“I owe everything to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Putting a blanket ban on representatives attending in an official capacity is utterly absurd.”

‘Endorsing war’

ULU president Michael Chessum told The Telegraph that officers and students were free to attend as individuals, adding: “Personally, I will commemorate the dead killed in war by fighting for peace and challenging the policies of governments, not by standing next to war criminals like Tony Blair on plinths, pretending that these acts are ‘triumphant’.”

Remembrance Day is not at all about endorsing war, it is about paying respect to not only all of the soldiers that fought but also remembering all of the lives that were lost. – Jonathan Thomas

SUARTS have offered him and the ULU their support, with president Shelly Asquith telling ALN that she thinks the incident has been been represented unfairly in the media: “ULU did not ban anyone from attending the memorial service, they voted as a collective as to whether they should represent the union.

“Everyone is still entitled to support in their own way and the official services endorse war rather than discourage it.

She added: “The charities that support soldiers and veterans such as the Poppy Appeal do a great job, but ultimately it is the government’s responsibility and they should be the ones funding the welfare.”

Paying respect

Jonathan Thomas, a serving soldier with the Royal Engineers who has just recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, told ALN: “Although some people fundamentally disagree with the act of war, remembrance services and Remembrance Day are not at all about endorsing war, it is about paying respect to not only all of the soldiers that fought but also remembering all of the lives that were lost whilst being persecuted by Hitler.

“Not having anyone represent the ULU on such an important day is utterly disrespectful and does not accurately represent all of those students that do want to show their gratitude.”

Students from all UAL colleges were encouraged to observe a two minute silence outside their campuses at 11am to pay their respects on Monday November 11.

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