July 21, 2024

By Joe Pinner

The University of Bristol was hit by a Just Stop Oil protest this morning as a student from the University of the West of England (UWE) covered the Queen’s Building in orange paint.

Ben Meehan, a film student at UWE, sprayed the ground floor of the building with paint just before midday.

Speaking exclusively to The Bristol Tab, Meehan said that he specifically targeted the university’s engineering building to call out the university’s association with corporations that they deem to be accelerating the climate crisis.

Meehan said: “We sent a letter to all the vice-chancellors, asking all universities to support students engaging in civil disobedience. We need to just start fucking waking up, standing up and being counted, rather than just going along and accepting all these systems that are destroying us.”

Bristol security staff arrived within minutes of the protest before police arrested Meehan. The paint was cleaned immediately.

This action comes as part of Just Stop Oil’s wider campaign to recruit younger members, with the group urging university students and academics to join their movement.

Within the University of Bristol, student Jesse Prince is facing nine months in prison for blocking the M25 as part of a Just Stop Oil protest last year whereby he climbed onto the gantries of the motorway.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “The University of Bristol plays a key role in tackling environmental change through its research, its teaching and how it operates.

“We know how important this is, not just to our staff and students, but to the whole world, which is why sustainability remains one of the central strands shaping the University’s vision of the future.

“We were the first university in the UK to declare a climate emergency in 2019, reaffirming our strong and positive commitment to take action on climate change and, a year later, in 2020 we completely divested from all investments in fossil fuel companies.

“All our partnerships undergo stringent due diligence checks and ethical review first, ensuring the University is using its expertise to influence positive change. We continue to actively engage with our major suppliers, including banks, to see where positive improvements and changes can be made.

“We respect our staff and students’ right to raise concerns about issues they feel strongly about in a lawful way and we will continue to listen to and engage with their views, however we ask that these are discussed with us directly and through appropriate channels.”

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson added: “We received a call at approximately 12.15pm today (Monday 9 October) in relation to a criminal damage incident in Bristol.

“On arrival, officers found one of the University of Bristol’s buildings, in Woodland Road, had been damaged with paint.

“One man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.”

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