Deputy editor Oscar Frost and news writer Gracie Rogers report on the Just Stop Oil protest at the UoB library.
On Wednesday October 11, a Just Stop Oil protestor took action outside the University of Birmingham’s library. The student threw orange paint on the outside of the building at 12:50 P.M., leaving behind handprints and smears across the Eastern entrance. They then proceeded to hold a sit-down protest in behind a Just Stop Oil banner.
The student was named on the Just Stop Oil website and Twitter (X) as Harrison Donnelly.
While seated in front of the library, Donnelly alleged that the university “gives people jobs with fossil fuels,” and criticised the University’s oil-based research options.
The protestor was quickly surrounded by campus security officers, with over ten being brought to the scene within half an hour of the protestor arriving. The officers’ main concern was to move onlookers on, continually requesting students to carry on with their days and move on from the incident.
The paint was removed from the site soon after the arrival of the police, who escorted the student away.
A spokesperson for the Birmingham branch of Just Stop Oil, and a recent graduate of the university, said: ‘The community of students in Birmingham that we are building up have the same goal as everyone within Just Stop Oil: to stop the issuing of all new oil, gas, and coal licenses.’
They went on to say that ‘By targeting universities, we want to show students that we will not wait for the adults to save us’, noting that ‘The University of Birmingham is the last Russell Group university to make no commitment to ending fossil fuel investments.’ The university acknowledges that its current investment in fossil fuel-related companies is valued at £443,000.
The spokesperson also attributed the new wave of student branches to the ‘eco-anxiety’ which they say is ‘rampant in young people’, who have been ‘learning about climate change for their entire academic career’ and finding that ‘nothing has changed’.
Falmouth University, University of Exeter, University College London and University of Sussex were the other institutions targeted by the climate activist group in one day. In Exeter, Wednesday’s activity marked the third day in a row in which Just Stop Oil activists were able to protest on campus.
According to the Just Stop Oil twitter account, Birmingham was the fifth campus on that day alone to be targeted by the group. They are dubbing the widespread activism as #OrangeWednesday to mark the day of student activism across the nation.
The reason for the rise in protests, according to their website, is the government’s plan to increase the number of gas and oil projects in the United Kingdom. The climate group are “calling on students and faculty staff to march with Just Stop Oil in London this November” as a follow-up to this campus-based activity.
Since the start of term across U.K. universities, Just Stop Oil have had an increased drive to recruit students. Leaflets have been handed out at numerous universities, including here in Birmingham.
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