Students have accused a university of “greenwashing” after it spent almost £24,000 on a life-size statue of Greta Thunberg.
Winchester University has been accused of ignoring its commitment to the environment by protesters.
They have called for beef to be taken off the canteen menu, as well as cheaper vegan options and buildings to be made more energy efficient as opposed to “wasting money on meaningless statues”.
Student union president Megan Ball criticised the decision to erect the statue when it was unveiled in 2021, saying it showed that cuts and students’ mental health were not prioritised enough by Winchester.
Locals have also been left shocked by the move, due to the Swedish activist having no connection with the Hampshire city.
The climate activist has been celebrated by the university. Yui Mok
Protesters from the Labour Society, the Allotment Society and the Sustainability Society gathered at the West Downs Centre, where the statue is, to voice their discontent.
A third year archaeology student told The Times: “I came here understanding that [the university] believed in certain values, which I now know are moot.
“Take beef off the menu and replace it with chicken and fish if need be. Make your plant-based meals affordable.
“Focus on making university buildings energy efficient and sustainable rather than wasting money on meaningless statues, the Maning of which have been completely wasted on the university’s upper echelons.”
A university spokesman said: “For many years the University of Winchester has led the way on issues of sustainability and social justice in the higher eduction sector and we look forward to continuing to do so.
“These values are embedded in everything we do to provide and excellent educational experience for our students.”