The students’ union have apologised for not acknowledging Holocaust Memorial Day following students’ criticism.
Whilst other students’ unions posted a message of remembrance on their social media over the weekend, UEA’s union did not.
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) occurs on 27 January each year as a reminder of the six million Jewish people murdered during World War 2 and the many other victims of Nazi persecution.
On this day, people across the world paused to remember the millions who were killed and whose lives were changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust.
This particular date marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp.
SU Welfare Community and Diversity Officer, India Edwards apologised for the lack of commemoration.
She told Concrete the union had planned to commemorate the day this year.
“Although no specific on campus event was requested this year, we had fully planned to mark HMD on the day, however last minute illness in the team prevented this from happening,” she said.
“I am truly sorry about this- we will be reviewing internally to ensure this can’t happen again.”
She added: “This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day focused on remembrance and on learning the lessons, so as to never repeat this historical atrocity.
“It commemorates the six million Jewish people systematically murdered during the Holocaust, as well as those killed in genocides around the world since.”
Alex Dalton, a third year History and Politics student, said he could not believe the Union did not acknowledge the day.
He said: “It’s been this way since right back in first year.
“I’ve always said it’s disgraceful that the union doesn’t commemorate the day because it’s illogical as to why they don’t.
“I genuinely don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”
Ms Edwards said the SU has committed to participation in a national campaign to “draw attention to the reality of the past”.
Remember to Keep us updated on how you are commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day this year. Make sure your union is joining in on the conversation by using the #HMD18 and #OurLivingMemory hashtags. #HolocaustMemorialDay18
— NUS Connect (@nusconnect) January 27, 2018
The #OurLivingMemory campaign is organised by the Union of Jewish students and the Holocaust Educational Trust (HETA) for student leaders to “ensure the messages of the Holocaust are never forgotten.”
Jess Schindler-Glass, a committee member for the UEA Jewish society and second-year Psychology student, said: “I would like to highlight the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day for Jews on campus.
“It is a day dedicated to remembering those who were killed during World War 11, a defining part of many people’s Jewish identity”.
Another member of the Jewish society and second-year Medicine student, Alice Cepelowicz Lessa, said: “This applies to others who suffered during the events in World War Two, such as ethnic minorities, disabled people and LGBTQ+ people.
“It’s important for us to take a step back and reflect on our actions and how they affect others.”
“Peaceful coexistence begins in small communities such as our campus at UEA,” she added.
Third-year English Literature student, Daniel Box, tweeted his disappointment with the union.
— Dan Box (@boxdaniel3437) January 27, 2018
He told Concrete: “I’m extremely disappointed that the SU have remained silent.
“Considering at Thursday’s Union Council we heard allegations that many Jewish students felt uncomfortable on campus, I was hoping for a concentrated effort from the Union to ensure that Jewish students felt protected and safe on campus.”