A life-size statue of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is pictured after the statue was unveiled 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 erected at a UK university caused trouble among students who 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). Some called it a “vanity project”.
The university defended the bronze statue it believes is the Swedish environmental activist’s first life-size model. Thunberg is an “inspiring” figure and “a symbol of the university’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and social justice”.
But the university’s student union said ahead of the statue’s unveiling on Tuesday that while they “admired Greta for her drive and determination … we cannot tolerate the statue’s unveiling”.
The university “must not ignore its current students as it focuses on new student recruitment, the sustainability agenda and outreach” and urged them to cover the statue cost by raising an additional £ 23,760 funding for student support services the entire campus.
Last week the student union issued a statement arguing that Thunberg was “a fantastic role model for everyone as someone who speaks loudly and proudly on important global issues and stands up to the adversities others have put on her.”
However, it was said that the last year dominated by the coronavirus crisis had resulted in layoffs, cuts in the library, and restrictions on regulations.
The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is protesting with her poster “School strike for the climate” as part of her protest “Fridays for the future” in front of the Swedish parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on October 9, 2020.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND | AFP | Getty Images
“(Students) are charged full tuition for an academic year that is far from normal. There is a debilitating mental health crisis among students and the welfare services require additional assistance. We believe this statue will be unveiled next Week shows that these issues are not their priorities. “
Winchester University and College Union described the sculpture as a “vanity project” on social media last week.
The University of Winchester announced that the sculpture was commissioned in 2019 and should be installed at the time of the installation of a new building, the West Downs Center, on campus.
“We are aware of some concerns about funding for the statue. The statue was commissioned in 2019 as part of the West Downs Project with funds that could only be spent on this building. No money was raised from student support or from the staffing diverted to fund the West Downs project, “it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The university said it had spent £ 5.2 million this year on student support, processed hardship funding, and set up a new student IT access fund to aid learning during the pandemic.