Management minutes have confirmed Uea(su) rejected the British Army’s request to distribute recruitment leaflets in Union House earlier this year. The minutes state the SU management committee agreed “unanimously” to deny the request.
It is a move UEA Conservatives have condemned. A spokesman for the group said: “The Students’ Union should recognise that a career working in the Armed Forces is a viable option being considered by many of our current students and it should also respect the enormous sacrifice made by our serving personnel and their families. Just this week, we’re celebrating the memory of men and women who gave their lives to enshrine the freedom we enjoy today [in VE Day celebrations].
“The Armed Forces provide essential humanitarian and peacekeeping work across the globe. The Union Jack and UK Aid are seen as distinct icons around the world in protecting some of the most vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorism, war and persecution.
“If the SU doesn’t wish to support the recruitment of these brave men and women, then they’re undermining this essential and life-saving work.”
However, Uea(su) officers said: “The Army made a request to place recruitment leaflets in Union House earlier this year, which was declined for two reasons. The Students’ Union takes an ethical stance against promoting a career that could see our members being placed in an armed conflict. Secondly we recognise that military recruitment can mean different things to different student groups as well as students from overseas whose countries may have been involved in an armed conflict with the UK and they may find this promotion unsettling or alarming.”
Update 19/05/20: A spokesman for UEA Armed Forces society said: “The Student’s Union states in their Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association that their Objects advance the education of students by “promoting the interests and welfare of Students at the University of East Anglia during their course of study and representing, supporting and advising Students”. While we appreciate the need for sensitivity surrounding student groups that may have been directly or indirectly affected by armed conflict, we also implore the Union to consider that they represent the interests of all students at the University of East Anglia – including those who wish to pursue a career in the Armed Forces.
“Clearly this is a difficult situation to navigate, however we would be more than happy to work with the Students’ Union to ensure that the Armed Forces and other interests of the students are represented and addressed in a sensitive manner that is tailored to the requirements of all students.”
The British Army, UEA Labour and UEA Liberal Democrats are yet to respond to a request for comment.