University Union president sparks controversy for promising to vandalise mural of fallen WWI soldiers because it depicts ‘white men’

A University Union president has sparked controversy for promising to “paint over” a mural of WWI soldiers — because it depicts ‘white men’.

University of Southampton Union leader Emily Dawes vowed to deface a painting created in 1916 as a mark of respect to students and staff who served in the First World War.

She has posted a message on Twitter promising to damage the memorial which is displayed on campus.

Writing online yesterday (24) she said: “Mark my words – we’re taking down the mural of white men in the uni Senate room, even if I have to paint over it myself”.

The painting of was presented to the University of Southampton in 1959.

It acts as a symbol of remembrance to students who were unable to complete their degrees as they went to fight in WW1.

It was unveiled at the University’s Highfield Campus, in the Senate room, four years ago.

Her comment attracted criticism and support.

@ukhistorygirl said: “For some reason war heroes are being targeted. I will always be proud of our armed services, current and veterans. Those that died and who were injured make me burst with pride. #poppypride”

@Prem2014 said: “@unisouthampton I really hope you won’t allow that mural to be defaced and painted over?

“Those young men were sent to war and unfortunately a lot didn’t come back to be able to complete their studies!

“But they gave their lives which means students today can study freely.”

@ToryShorty wrote: “A very sad day.

“As I understand these are actual individuals who died in WW1 and the mural depicts them receiving posthumous degrees.

“@unisouthampton please do something about this.”

One Twitter user said: “My daughter has chosen not to go to uni in this country- because if this sort of thing.”

The University of Southampton responded to the Twitter backlash by saying it is “proud to display” the mural.

In a statement posted on Twitter the University of Southampton said: “The comments made by the Students’ Union President regarding the Rothenstein Mural are not shared by us and do not represent the views of the University community.

“We are proud to display the Mural, which is a memorial to all members of British universities who served in WW1.”


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