Cambridge Union should be ashamed of its snobbishness towards the military
BY CHARLOTTE GILL
In a ridiculous move that will only confirm many people’s suspicion that universities have become incubators for deranged groupthink, Cambridge’s Students’ Union has decided that military personnel at freshers’ fair could be damaging to mental health.
Students argued that their presence is “alarming” and voted to ban anyone bringing firearms onto campus. Stella Swain, the welfare and rights officer, suggested that people find these “triggering”.
The only thing “triggering” though is her misplaced sense of moral superiority. It makes me think we should ban the t-word, generally, which only ever seems to be used by tyrannical whippersnappers – to silence anyone who doesn’t have a BA in gender studies or whatever other sociological nonsense has warped their brains. How would Ms Swain like that for a motion…
The decision of Cambridge University’s Students’ Union is dire for all sorts of reasons, but it is also sad because it insults the military – who do a fantastic job at keeping us safe. That’s before we get to our forefathers (and foremothers); what about those who defeated Hitler; who spent their youths in the trenches, and everyone else who fought for our liberties today? They clearly don’t enter the consciousness of these undergraduates, who probably think having a philosophy module on Logic is tantamount to trauma.
There’s a real snobbery to the motion, too. The students are essentially trying to block anyone from speaking at freshers’ fair from talking about military careers. Why could this be? My theory is it’s because these jobs are physical, and thus alien to people who spend most of their time debating Plato. Perhaps they think war is avoidable – and can be talked out of, as if the world was a big Cambridge seminar.
As most generations will testify, though, war is rarely a choice, mostly a sacrifice made when faced with great terror. Those who join the military should be championed for their bravery and willingness to step up for our society. These are great careers that are financially secure and offer ample development opportunities. On a personal note, I’ve never met anyone from the armed forces who has a bad word to say about it – often missing the lifestyle after leaving.
Unfortunately it’s not the first time, and probably won’t be the last, that the Cambridge Student Union scoffs at the military. In 2018, they shot down a motion by the university’s Conservative Association which would have promoted Remembrance Sunday celebrations. Union members found certain areas problematic, such as references to Britain and poppies.
The only thing problematic, though, is the bubble they live in. It shows that you can have the finest education in the world, and still lack realism, as well as perspective about what it really means to be “triggered”.
Since the 2019 general election, it’s easy to believe that this type of woke thinking was defeated, yet the incident at Cambridge University reminds us that there is much to be done to tackle censorship, cancel culture and other forms of people pretending they are offending to exert control. For all their snobbery, the army-bashing brigade should know most people respect the military far more than their daft opinions.
Charlotte Gill is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Mail on Sunday, The Times and The Telegraph. Follow her on twitter: @CharlotteCGill