In a rather surreal sight, a lecture being held at Durham University had to be stopped following its invasion by ‘environmental protesters’. The lecture, called ‘The Role of Oil and Gas Tomorrow’ – featured topics revolving around the oil and gas industry. The lecture had to be stopped following the interruption, with order unable to be restored. Reaction to this ‘protest’ has been mixed. The University responded by criticising the protesters for limited ‘free speech’. Read on for the full story.
Footage of the incident has been uploaded by Palatinate – it can be seen here. The footage shows twelve individuals lying on the floor of the lecture theatre. They started to engage in chanting. Some of these chants included ‘the enemy is profit’, and ‘Durham University, think about your legacy’. The protest has been described as a ‘die-in’. It was done in response to Durham University’s association with the fossil fuel industry – which is a sensitive topic for environmentalists.
The protest was carried out by Durham People and Planet. In the past, as mentioned, they have criticised the University’s investment – which totals £1.5M – into fossil fuel companies. People and Planet have urged Durham University, among other educational institutions around the world, to support a fossil free future. People and Planet is a large student network that aims to help protect the environment. This is one of the more public showings they have engaged in.
As mentioned, footage was uploaded to social media, which garnered a mixed response from students and the wider community. One criticised the protesters as acting like ‘tantruming spoilt brats’, while another called for their expulsion. Some praised their actions however, suggesting it helped to raise awareness about an important issue. Durham University responded in a critical fashion, suggesting the campaigners tried to limit freedom of speech by protesting.
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Arguments around fossil fuels usually revolve around the profit vs environment debate. It is clear that the People and Planet group feel strongly, and have significant backing. The environment is an important thing to protect. But freedom of speech is very important – especially at Universities.
The image at the top of this article comes from The Palatinate – Durham University’s Independent Student Newspaper – click here to visit their website.