Petition For Southampton University SU President To Resign Has 11,000 Signatures
A petition for the Southampton University Students' Union President to resign has amassed over 11,000 signatures, after a tweet of hers hit headlines for all the wrong reasons.
SU President Emily Dawes tweeted to say that a 'mural of white men' should be painted over, adding: "Even if I have to paint over it myself."
The mural in question is a tribute to students killed in WWI, who as a result were unable to collect their degrees. Painted by Sir William Rothenstein in 1916, it depicts the fallen soldiers collecting their honorary degrees.
Dawes has since issued an apology, saying: "Firstly, and most importantly, I would like to apologise for the offense and upset I have caused with what I have said. I never meant the disrespect to anyone past, present and future. I had no intention of the tweet being taken literally, and upon reflection have realised howinappropriate it was.
"My intention was to promote strong, female leadership and not the eradication and disrespect of history. I do not believe that to make progress in the future, we should look to erase the past.
"Once again, I would like to apologise for the offence and upset I have caused."
However, she has still received a great deal of backlash for her comments - including a petition that was set up urging her to resign.
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"Emily Dawes, the Southampton University Student Union president should apologise and stand down immediately regarding her offensive comments made using her work-associated Twitter account," the petition description reads.
"Dawes vowed to remove the mural in the university Senate room, threatening to vandalise it herself due to it depicting 'white men'. The mural in fact depicts the young men who left Southampton University to fight during the First World War receiving their degrees which many of them did not return to receive. Not only that, but it is a memorial to all those who died during the conflict.
"Dawes' comments, fuelled by the simple fact that the men in the mural are white, are unacceptable and offensive to the vast majority of students who choose to support remembrance.
"Therefore, this is an unacceptable abuse of an elected position to further her own political agenda, and, as admitted by the Student Union, is not in line with their 'mission or values'."
A statement from Southampton University Students' Union said: "We do not believe the statement was said to cause upset or disrespect to anyone and does not follow our mission or values."
A university spokesman also said that Dawes' comments 'do not represent the views of the university community'.
He said: "We are very proud to display the mural, painted in 1916, which serves as a memorial to all members of British universities who served in the Great War."
Featured Image Credit: Google Maps/Southampton University