Posters urging for the removal of the flag were left around King's this weekRosie Bradbury

Students at King’s have voted overwhelmingly to remove the Soviet flag in the College Bar, in a referendum that took place today.

86% of undergraduate voters elected to remove the flag, as opposed to 11% who voted to keep it in the Bar. 266 undergraduates voted, out of 410 eligible registered voters.

Among graduate students, 56% voted to remove the flag, while 41% voted to keep it – although turnout was lower, with 87 out of 277 eligible students voting.

Student campaigners, calling for the flag to be removed, have highlighted their discomfort with the flag in King’s, while detailing their own family histories in the Soviet Union – using the slogan ‘It’s personal’. One poster cited a student’s grandparents’ “collective 16 years in prison for opposing the regime”.

The Soviet flag resting beneath its usual place in the barRosie Bradbury

Commenting on the results, one student who has been driving campaign efforts said he felt “relief” and a “sense of justice” as the results came out: “This wasn‘t just about our experiences at college, but also demonstrating that Soviet crimes shouldn’t be forgotten. That our families’ fates shouldn‘t be forgotten.”

They added that, “the next steps for us are working together with a diverse range of students to come up with an adequate symbol of progressivist action to replace the flag.”

An open meeting was held by King’s College Students’ Union yesterday for students to voice their opinions on the issue, before polls opened this morning at 9am. One student who attended the meeting said it was very full, and felt like a “supportive space”, with “emotional” speeches and no public opposition to the motion.

The student campaigner, who spoke at the meeting, said “it felt like everyone was finally listening and having their eyes opened to what this meant to us and our families”, with speeches garnering “standing ovations”.


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A spokesperson from KCSU said of the open meeting that, “we felt we had to support it going forward at this specific time in order to express our support for the students we represent”.

“Whatever your political stance, the presence of the flag is connected to the emotions and wellbeing of King’s students in their common space: we felt it was vital that those who felt distressed by it formally air their opinions and complaints.”

The spokesperson added that the flag will be taken down, with no need for further approval, and will only be replaced if another motion were put forward.

The flag was initially framed in King’s in 2004. Students have traditionally held a debate on the flag every few years, with students voting to keep it in 2010. Although students voted to take down the flag in 2013, this decision was scrapped by a second, emergency vote in 2014.

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