A life-sized statue of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg on the campus of the University of Winchester.
A life-sized statue of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg on the campus of the University of Winchester.
Photo by AFP

A bronze statue of the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was installed on Tuesday at Winchester University in the United Kingdom. The statue titled "Make a Difference" costs £24,000 or over Rs 24 lakh. However, university students are criticising the installation calling it a “vanity project”.

The students union at the university believes that the money could have been put to better use especially during the coronavirus pandemic when the staff and students are struggling financially.

The Winchester Student Union released a statement on their official website which says that even though "Greta is a fantastic role model to everyone, as someone who speaks loudly and proudly about important global issues" but they won't support the unveiling of the statue.

The statement further reads, "The year in which this artistic piece is being delivered is one that has seen unimaginable financial impacts. Students have seen staff redundancies, library cuts and limitation of provisions. They are being charged full tuition fees for an academic year that is anything but normal. There is a crippling mental health crisis amongst students, and wellbeing services are crying out for additional support. In our view, the unveiling of this statue next week shows that these issues are not their (university's) priorities."

The University, on the other hand, says that the statue "is a symbol of the University’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and social justice." The description of the statue on University of Winchester's website reads, "We are aware of some concerns raised about the financing of the statue. The statue was commissioned in 2019 as part of the West Downs project from funds which could only be spent on that building. No money was diverted from student support or from staffing to finance the West Downs project."

The controversy has gone viral on Twitter with students as well as other people commenting on it.

Here's what the public reaction to the statue looks like:

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Free Press Journal