Extinction Rebellion protestor climbs on top of UoS building during open day

A security guard threw a sandwich up to him


An Extinction Rebellion protester climbed onto the roof of a building on Highfield campus during an open day yesterday.

The 31-year-old protester, who said his name was "Willy", is a former UoS student. His antics drew in a large crowd of onlookers.

Willy said he was protesting against the university's links with companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell and BAE, which he claimed were "emitting carbon into our atmosphere".

He told the crowd it was his duty to make potential students aware of the university's involvement with fossil fuel companies.

He said: "I don’t want to be up here but I’m frightened by what’s going on. I believe students at the university should be aware.

"The university prepares students for working within these organisations and paints them as worthwhile career prospects.

"They do not give a balanced view of who they are and what they do.

"These three global giants have been instrumental in politically destabilising whole regions for economic gain, causing the mass destruction of life and livelihoods, and manipulating global environmental policy.

"The university provides a direct route for these organisations to hire the students and provides them with high quality research that contributes to their criminal enterprises."

Willy said the reaction to the protest was largely positive, adding: “I’ve been giving seminars to potential students and a security guard threw me up a sandwich earlier.”

He planned to stay on top of the building for the whole of yesterday, but was down by 1.45pm.

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Extinction Rebellion's Southampton group have described the protest as a "theatre piece".

Willy was playing Dick from the fictional "Innovation at Any Cost" society; recruiting students for innovative fossil industry and humanitarian weapons manufacturers.

The group claims the university is 93rd of 154 on the "People and Planet Sustainability League" and scores particularly low in ethical investment.

A spokesperson for the university said: “We are aware of the protester whose safety was monitored by our staff.

"Whilst we respect the right to free speech on campus our concern was primarily for his safety in being on the roof of a building which isn’t specifically designed for such activity.

"During the time he was in place, he received limited attention from visitors to our Open Day today and caused very minimal disruption to activities planned, largely for health and safety reasons."

"We are proud of our strong track record in environmental sustainability research, education and enterprise with a definite commitment to reducing our impact on the environment resulting in direct action taken by students and staff to collectively reduce our university’s impact on the environment."

"Our corporate partnerships bring wide ranging benefits to the University and particularly to our students with numerous projects and activities focused on making a positive impact on the environment.”

A spokesperson from Shell said: “We respect the right of everyone to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others in mind.”

ExxonMobil and BAE declined to comment.

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