A bronze statue of climate activist Greta Thunberg costing £24,000 or over Rs 24 lakh installed at a UK university has sparked off outrage among students, who have who have called the installation a “vanity project”. The University of Winchester In England recently had announced its plan to erect a first life-sized sculpture of the Swedish environmental activist, which they believe is the first in the world. But the students union at the university have rued that the money could have been better spent rather than a statue at a time of duress when the coronavirus has affected the students and staff.
The university, however said that money from students’ support or staff was not taken for the statue and the installation was to mark the ‘symbol of commitment to combat the climate emergency’.
Bronze statue of @GretaThunberg installed @_UoW as symbol of commitment to combat the climate emergency: https://t.co/K1K3FOTyeL pic.twitter.com/l6vg7wFmd7— UoW Press Office (@_UoWNews) March 30, 2021
The Winchester students union put out a statement outlining the issues the former had witht he statue. It said that while Greta Thunberg is a ‘fantastic role model to everyone, as someone who speaks loudly and proudly about important global issues’, the union cannot support this project as there are far important causes where the money could have been spent.
“The year in which this artistic piece is being delivered is one that has seen unimaginable financial impacts…we acknowledge that this was not repurposed from other budgets such as those for mental health or Student Services. However, £23,760 is a considerable amount of money for a statue that the Student Union had no input or say,” the statement signed by Megan Ball, the Student Union President, Victoria Hurley, the Vice President, Education & Welfare and Ellen O’Dwyer, Vice President, Activities said.
We have just passed the following motion regarding @_UoW’s decision to spend £24k on a statue of Greta Thunberg after years of austerity @winchestersu @dailyecho @hantschronicle: pic.twitter.com/CeDOCCqJe4— Winchester UCU (@WinchesterUCU) March 24, 2021
The union also added that their “concerns are about the expenditure and transparency of decision making by the university, which have long been opaque, not the subject of the statue.”
Netizens also reacted to the university union’s reply to the unveiling of the statue and many of them also criticized the varsity’s decision to spend so much on a statue at a time when all sectors including education is going through a tough phase.
Seems reasonable that students would have a say in how funds are spent. I'd be surprised, however, if the majority of students failed to support the statue given that environmental activism is required to ensure continued habitability of the planet!— Fredric Graboyes (@FGraboyes) March 30, 2021
I think Greta would rather you had spent the money on solar panels for the university.— Gem (@gemcch) March 30, 2021
I fully support that Greta can be a role model and a source of inspiration.However, if the university's really in such a position, that money should not have been spent on an extra project, and instead diverted towards helping students in one of the hardest times in education.
— HexSay(ヘックサイ/헫카삳) (@HexSay21) March 31, 2021
Yes!!! That’s what I’m saying!! We’re literally in the mids of a pandemic rn, and they out here building statues. I cannot, the stupidity— sadbitchenergy (@sadbitchenergy3) March 31, 2021
Thunberg has often been both hailed and criticised for her statements by politicians. She was also recently criticised for her support to Indian farmers’ protest in a tweet, where she referred to a ‘toolkit’ for the farmers.