Student union condemned after it polls on whether to remove “Alex Salmond stone” from campus


A STUDENT union has been condemned for holding a poll on whether to remove the “Alex Salmond stone” from its campus.

A rock in the grounds of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, is engraved with a quote from Salmond opposing tuition fees north of the border.

The student union is polling members on whether to get rid of the rock in the wake of numerous sex crime charges laid against the former First Minister, which he strongly denies.

Since it was posted last night, there have been more than 350 votes, 60% of which opposed removing the stone.

Heriot Watt opened the poll last night

Euan Ross commented: “Deeply concerning that the union has chosen now to discuss this matter. This really isn’t an appropriate time to be having this discussion.”

Gavin Richardson said: “These charges are unproven and the presumption of innocence should be upheld.

“Secondly, will the university and/or Student Union for example, be cancelling all references to Burns Night celebrations given his reputation as a philanderer, womaniser and alcoholic?

“Please remember that you can’t pick and choose, you have to apply the same standard to all aspects.

More than 60% of students didn’t want the Salmond stone to be removed

“Please show some common sense here.”

Mireille McNutt said: “Surely he is innocent until proven guilty. HW Student Union should wait until then to decide what to do.”

Lee Haywood said: “Not appropriate to seriously consider removing the stone until the truth comes out in court proceedings. Innocent until proven guilty.”

Robyn Milligan commented: “Bit of an extreme knee jerk reaction.”

And Beccy Mckay commented: “He’s innocent until proven guilty. The stone should remain until then.”

Among the 40% to vote yes was James Clark, who wrote: “I personally volunteer myself to attack it with a pickaxe.”

Users criticised the Student union for starting the poll so quickly after being charged.

The Salmond quote engraved on the stone, installed in 2014, states: ‘The rocks will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scotland’s students.’

Yesterday, the Student Union posted on their Facebook page: “Recently, we’ve received a number of messages from students regarding the Alex Salmond stone that stands by the loch that reads:

“It has come to our attention that the message, while originally well-intentioned, may not now represent our truly global Heriot-Watt student community.

Others seem to want the stone to be removed

“In addition to this, today’s news regarding the former First Minister has prompted the Executive Committee, which includes the Student Union President, Vice Presidents and Officers to consider whether or not it is appropriate for the Stone to remain on campus.

“We would like to hear from you, our members on the matter. Please take a moment to complete our poll and help guide us in making the decision of whether to keep the Stone or have it removed.”

Heriot-Watt Student President, Rahul Singh said it was “appropriate” to consult the students on this issue.

He said: “As a member led organisation Heriot-Watt University Student Union celebrates the diversity of our student population and indeed the diversity of student opinion of all students on our campuses.

“The Student Union Executive Committee met on Thursday to discuss a number of concerns raised by students relating to the content of messaging on a commemorative stone and ongoing legal proceedings involving the former First Minister.

“Given the various views raised at this meeting, the Executive deemed it appropriate to consult the wider student community on their opinions before entering into any decision making process.

“Heriot-Watt University Student Union enjoys an excellent working partnership with the university and in this spirit, the Student Union makes representations to the university based on the feedback received from our membership.”