Students at a university are outraged after it was revealed a new statue of climate activist Greta Thunberg cost £23,760.
Redundancy-hit Winchester University in Hampshire unveiled the statue yesterday, sparking immediate scorn when the whopping cost of the bronze bust was revealed.
Thunberg came to international attention for bunking off school in 2018 for protesting against climate change inaction. And while some might say the act of rebellion was pretty typical for a teenager, Thunberg has been heralded the world over for her stand.
The President of the Winchester students union, Megan Ball praised the Swedish climate skiver as a “fantastic role model”, but stopped far short of endorsing the expensive statue.
“We’re in a Covid year, lots of students haven’t really had access to campus, lots of them are trying to study online and are in dire need of support,” said Ball.
The university insists “no money was diverted”, but Ball says that’s not acceptable as the money could have been put to more beneficial use for students.
She added: “We are calling on the university to match the statue cost by committing £23,760 in additional funding to student support services across campus.
“We urge them to publicly face the critical issues which students are highlighting and provide a transparent breakdown of additional and existing financial support.”
Speaking to Sky news, Ball explained that Winchester University and College Union had passed a motion designating the statue a “vanity project”.
“The statue was commissioned in 2019, however since then there have been library cuts, two staff redundancy schemes and there is also a mental health crisis among students,” she explained.
“We have urged the university to consider the timing of the unveiling and to pause it; students are angry and frustrated.”
Local reaction was mixed. Winchester student Henry Osbourne was up in arms over the behind closed doors decision to commission the statue, complaining, why “weren’t [students] given a vote over who to have a statue of?”
“What a total waste of money,” said local resident Simon Dixon. “. I wonder whose bright idea that was.”
Another person from the area, Michelle Combs was more charitable, if a bit puzzled. “I think the statue sculpture itself is very good, but Greta has no connection with Winchester, or am I wrong?”
The Thunberg statue provoked outcry over social media with Brexiteer Darren Grimes calling it “horrific”.
“£24,000 on a statue of Greta Thunberg in a year in which students spending over £9,000 have hardly seen their university campuses,” tweeted Grimes.
“What a horrific waste of money.”
Save our statues co-founder Robert Poll chipped in with a cheeky remark carrying a strong message during this era of cancel culture, which his campaign is fighting against.
“If you guys get Greta, we definitely get Winston,” Poll tweeted.