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April 7, 2021
Greta Thunberg's statue, unveiled outside the university of Winchester, has sparked a backlash from students who feel the money would have been better spent on them. It has been labelled "a vanity project".
The sculptor, Christine Charlesworth, aimed to capture both Greta's determination and her vulnerability. As a very young person Greta has brought the issue of climate change to the world stage in an astonishing way. All this, despite being on the autism spectrum, which can make communiction very difficult. In an email to students about the piece, the university said it hoped the statue would become a symbol of its "commitment to combat the climate and ecological emergency." One would have thought that would be inspirational for students of the university, both now and in generations to come.
After students complained that it was not appropriate to erect a statue in a year of pandemic, the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Joy Carter, said: "No money was diverted from student support or from staffing to finance the West Downs project. Indeed, the university has spent £5.2m this year on student support." Given that statues are commissioned a very long time in advance it would have taken immense foresight to know that a pandemic was coming.
Odd, also, to see Greta's name associated with vanity. She is, surely, one of the least vane people.