A statement from the full-time officer team.
Over the past week or so social media has been alive with debate concerning the Sainsbury Centre commissioned Antony Gormley statues that have begun to be installed on campus. The placement of one of the statues on the library roof as we go into exam season has been considered to be highly insensitive by many students, given its obvious connotations with suicide.
For at least the last two years almost every SU election candidate has campaigned on a platform that has mentioned the need to tackle mental health on campus. Surveys, research and stories have all reinforced that the problem is real and the need for change urgent. Norfolk’s NHS services are woeful and UEA still has no mental health strategy in place.
In response to concerns that we have raised, the University has released this statement to students
We fully accept that art should provoke and that the University is lucky to have attracted Gormley pieces to its sculpture trail. But art is commissioned and positioned in a context, by people with power- and public art should involve public consultation. This isn’t a debate about ‘banning’ the statues, nor is it a crude debate about whether art could ‘cause’ suicide- it’s a debate about the timing and location of statues by a University that is failing on mental health.
If the intention was to ‘provoke’ some students into reflecting on the way in which the University’s mental health services have let them down, then the installation has been successful. It’s now crucial that the University delivers on its promise to develop a proper student Mental Health strategy for UEA and we’ll be doing all we can to hold them to that promise this term.