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Student freshers' fair bans the army; Veterans say decision was 'misguided'.

Byline: Chris Robinson

THE ARMY'S officer training corps has been banned from recruiting at a university freshers' week.

Northumbria's student council voted to bar the organisation from seeking new members alongside dozens of other clubs and societies last month.

Veterans last night said they were "saddened" by the decision, which was described as "misguided."

The students' union would not say why they banned the organisation, but pointed out it was a democratic decision.

The University Officer Training Corps recruits at all other institutions in the North East.

Northumbria University's commanding officer, Colonel David Madden, said: "It is really unfortunate. I understand why they want to do it, but I think they are misguided in the Student Union.

"They misunderstand what the OTC is and what we do. We are a university club in exactly the same way that there is a climbing club and a diving club.

"We are a leadership and development organisation for undergraduates and my aim is to put across the Army's ethos and what we are all about.

"They is no obligation whatsoever to join the Army, we are not a recruiting organisation for the Army.

"In an ideal world, of course, I would like people to join."

Northumbria University Student Union president David Wright said its policy did not prevent them from advertising at other times throughout the year.

He said: "Student Council is an elected body to represent and pass policy as determined by our members.

"The Students' Union elected officers like myself to work for and on behalf of all students and it is our duty to ensure that policy decisions are implemented.

"Our job is to support our members and stand by democratic decisions that have been made."

University bosses invited the NUOTC to pitch a stand the following week to recruit members.

Col Madden said: "It was not as successful as it would have been if we had been at the fresher's fair, but it was the best we could do in the circumstances.

"We have had no problem with any of the five universities before. The university itself has been incredibly supportive."

He said discussions were "ongoing" with the union to attend the welcome week next year.

Retired Major Fred Calvert, a Territorial Army recruitment officer, said he was "saddened" by the news.

He said: "I feel that it's strange that a group of 17 people can make that decision on behalf of thousands of students.

"It's an excellent organisation, it teaches leadership skills and man management and all sorts of different activities.

They are not obliged in anyway to join the Army."

Bob Laverick, president of the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Royal British Legion, said: "It teaches younger people some discipline and some respect which is something that is long gone."

CAPTION(S):

SAD Bob Laverick, president of the local Royal British Legion.; SORRY Retired Territorial Army recruitment officer Fred Calvert.; VETERAN Retired Territorial Army recruitment officer Fred Calvert, said the officer training corps was an "excellent organisation".; BAN Northumbria University, whose student council banned the army's officer training corps from recruiting during freshers' week.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 25, 2008
Words:516
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