Norwich SU plans to sell white poppies next year as they think red poppies can be offensive
It’s to mourn the deaths of the war, without glamourising the oppression of the war
Last week, the UEA Students’ Union passed a motion called ‘Motion 2006 Remember: Don’t Repeat’ which means that both red and white poppies are planned to be stocked on campus in the days running up to Remembrance Day 2017.
The motion stated that some of the campus population may consider the red poppy to be “a political symbol with multiple offensive, upsetting and actively negative connotations” due to personal family histories and beliefs.
Because of this, white poppies will be sold on campus alongside the red alternatives in order to provide a memorial option for those opposed to the red poppy.
Initially proposed by Finn Northrop, SU Non-Portfolio Officer, and seconded by SU Women’s Officer, Abbie Mulcairn, the motion further added that those offended by the poppy may think that “the imperialist nature of the British armed forces throughout history means that some see the red poppy as a celebration of the British armed forces and by extension, the atrocities perpetrated by the British armed forces throughout history”.
Mentioned specifically as one of the reasons for the motion during the debate in Union Council was the arrest of 16,000 conscientious objectors during the First World War.
Reportedly, this claim is cited to a Quakers in World War One history website, where is it states that “part of the ‘war effort’ is glamourised by the poppy”.
The Union added in its argument for white poppies: “It is distressing for students affected by one or more of the above issues to be surrounded by something they see as a symbol of oppression and persecution.
“We should not add to the distress caused to students who find the poppy distressing and already have to walk around in an environment in which it is highly prevalent.
“That the white poppy exists for those who wish to mourn the loss of life, but who feel the red poppy is a deeply offensive symbol for one or more of the above reasons (or other reasons not listed)”.
In light of the new motion, second year George commented: “Whilst I can see where the Union might be coming from, I can’t see how this will improve their already tattered reputation.
“It’s a symbol of remembrance that whilst perhaps insignificant, is certainly not offensive.”
Third year Beth, on the other hand, understands what the Union is trying to achieve: “Personally I think it’s great that the university is showing this kind of compassion towards those whose families may have historically been oppressed by the war.
“It’s important that we can maintain national pride whilst also showing compassion towards those who have suffered; this is just as much what we should be thinking about when we take our minute’s silence.”
Next year, if poppies are to be stocked on campus in any Union outlets, both red and white poppies will have to be stocked in equal numbers.