Greta Thunberg statue sparks anger when unveiled in UK
A life-size statue of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is pictured after the unveiling of the statue outside the West Downs Center on the University of Winchester campus in Winchester, Hampshire on March 31, 2021.
Adrian Dennis | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – A statue of climate activist Greta Thunberg which has been installed at a UK university has angered students who have called it a waste of money.
Students at the University of Winchester in southern England expressed dismay at the cost of the statue, which was nearly £ 24,000 ($ 33,000), with some calling it a “project of vanity”.
The university defended the bronze statue, which it says is the Swedish environmental activist’s first life-size model, claiming Thunberg is an “inspiring” figure and “a symbol of the continued commitment of the University for sustainability and social justice ”.
But the university’s students’ union said ahead of the statue’s unveiling on Tuesday that while it admired “Greta for her drive and determination… we cannot tolerate the unveiling of the statue.”
He said the university “should not ignore its current students by focusing on recruiting new students, the sustainability program and publicity” and asked it to match the cost of the statue by hiring 23,760 £ additional funding for student support services on campus.
Last week, the students’ union released a statement saying Thunberg was “a fantastic role model for everyone, as someone who speaks loudly about important global issues and defies the odds that he does. others put him. “
However, he said the last year dominated by the coronavirus crisis had resulted in staff layoffs, cuts to libraries and limited supplies.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg protests with her sign reading “Schools strike for the climate” as part of her Fridays for the Future protest outside the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on October 9, 2020.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND | AFP | Getty Images
“(Students) have to pay full tuition for an academic year that is anything but normal. There is a crippling mental health crisis among students, and welfare services are calling for additional support. in our opinion, the unveiling of this statue next week shows that these issues are not their priorities. “
The Winchester University and College Union described the sculpture as a “vanity project” on social media last week.
The University of Winchester said the sculpture was commissioned in 2019 and is due to be installed when a new building, the West Downs Center, opens on its campus.
“We are aware of some concerns raised regarding the funding of the statue. The statue was commissioned in 2019 as part of the West Downs project from funds that could only be spent on this building. No money was diverted from student support or staffing. fund the West Downs project, ” he said in a statement Tuesday.
The university said it spent £ 5.2million this year on student support, processed hardship funding and created a new information technology access fund for students to support learning during the pandemic.