Parliament voted to launch bombing raids against Islamic State in Syria last Wednesday 2 December, however the decision faced opposition from MPs themselves who voted against the motion but also from the general public. In light of the NUS’ unanimous vote against this proposal, many students organised protests against the bombing.
Exeter’s local MP – Ben Bradshaw visited the University on the following Friday (4th November 2015) to discuss the EU referendum, whilst he specifically focused on why he thought the UK should remain in the EU. Many at the university had taken this opportunity as a way of carrying out a peaceful protest against the MP’s parliamentary vote in favour of airstrikes on Syria.
Some students at the University showed a stance of solidarity for the civilians in Syria by a silent sit-in.
Students had brought a banner that read ‘stop the bombing,’ along with leaflets as to why they think bombing Syria isn’t the best feasible way of dealing with the increasing terrorist attacks. A peace circle was formed on the floor with leaflets from the ‘free education demo’ that took place on 4th November earlier this year.
There was a vast collection of various forms of interpretive pieces displayed at the sit- in, mainly consisting of signs and poetry that were read out at an arranged time during the event. The organisers of the sit-in had engaged the student population with the military intervention unfolding in Syria.
Many students at the sit-in had a positive response when asked how successful they thought the sit-in was in terms of informing and engaging the student body.
Michael, who is the faith and worldview executive at the Student’s Guild explained why he thought a peaceful form of protesting was fundamental:
“The reason that we chose to use quiet as opposed to shouting, or using loud proclamations is because this isn’t about us, it’s not about western students, it’s about the people of Syria who don’t get to have a voice at this public stage.”