Just Stop Oil: UCL building 'painted orange' by student activists

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UCL's pillars now sport orange squiggles, while buckets of paint have been hurled at Exeter University's Stella Turk building

Just Stop Oil supporters have painted buildings belonging to five UK universities orange - just a day after targeting Oxford's famous Radcliffe Camera.

On Wednesday (11 October), student activists took aim at University College London's (UCL) pillars, as well as buildings belonging to Birmingham, Sussex, Falmouth and Exeter universities. In a statement, the climate campaign group said they were demanding the UK Government immediately halted planned new oil and gas projects - after Rishi Sunak announced more than 100 new fossil fuel exploration licences would be granted in the North Sea.

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The protesters were calling on students and faculty staff to march with Just Stop Oil in London this November, and criticised UK universities for allegedly taking £40m in fossil fuel funding since 2022. At around midday, an activist named by Just Stop Oil as Arthur Clifton - an English literature graduate from Exeter University - used a fire extinguisher to paint the UCL pillars orange.

The 22-year-old said: "I cannot stand by in terror and do nothing as my entire generation is sold out for short-term profit. I wonder how long it is before my 10 year old sister has to face the food shortages and violence that so many across the globe are already facing in the wake of social breakdown brought on through climate collapse?

"Universities are supposed to develop and protect their students and young people, but instead they are sending us into the furnace.

"The academic research has been done, and it could not be clearer. If these institutions listened to their own staff, they would know how crucial it is that we immediately halt all new oil and gas licences. Instead, they accept millions in funding from oil and gas corporations."

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Another activist targeted the pillars at UCL (Just Stop Oil/Supplied)Another activist targeted the pillars at UCL (Just Stop Oil/Supplied)
Another activist targeted the pillars at UCL (Just Stop Oil/Supplied) | Just Stop Oil

Meanwhile two students sprayed buildings belonging to Falmouth and Exeter Universities on their shared Penryn Campus. Holly Astle, an illustration graduate from Falmouth University, painted the vice chancellor's office - while across the road Ethan Paul, a renewable energy engineering graduate from Exeter University, used buckets of paint and spray cans to spread orange paint over Exeter's Stella Turk building.

In Birmingham, Harrison Donnelly has used buckets of paint and spray cans to paint the main University of Birmingham Library. In Sussex, Oscar Denman-Gould used a fire extinguisher to paint the University of Sussex Library.

On Tuesday, Just Stop Oil supporters painted the historic Radcliffe Camera building at Oxford University. The action against the building, used as a reading room by the Bodleian Library, saw a 21-year-old and a 19-year-old detained by police.

A university spokesperson told the BBC: "The university does not support illegal action, including any unlawful protesting, and may, within its powers, take any steps it considers appropriate against any student guilty of such behaviour... Access to the library has been temporarily redirected and steps are under way to remove the paint."

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Just Stop Oil's student division want university leaders to make public statements calling on the government to end new oil and gas projects - and make a commitment to join their students in marching on the streets of London, if the government fails to respond.

A UCL spokesperson said: “We condemn this act of vandalism which caused some disruption at our Bloomsbury campus.”

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