Animal rights activists have intensified their campaign
against University plans to build a new research centre in South
Parks Road. OUSU is, meanwhile, debating whether it should offer
support to University members or staff who are intimidated or
threatened by campaigners. The new centre will offer “a higher quality of
accommodation for animals” says the University. Animal
rights group SPEAK is angry about the plans, but spokesman Mel
Broughton told Cherwell that the group is organising “legal,
lawful campaigning” against Oxford’s intentions. The
aggressive tone of SPEAK’s website and the group’s
reputation, however, is causing concern among University staff
who fear the campaigning will escalate into more threatening
forms. One ‘Action Report’ on their website comments on
a recent demonstration, “Receiving a visit was ******* a
head of department at Oxford Uni, again no reply but there was a
very noisy calling card left. Rest assured all those living
around ******* Road, Oxford now know exactly who you are and the
fact they have collaborators in animal torture in their
midst.” These threats have forced OUSU to discuss the issue in its
Council meeting. A motion, seconded by President Helena Puig
Larrauri and due to be debated today noted, “Council
believes that whatever members of OUSU believe about the
necessity, acceptability and desirability of experimentation on
animals, in a democratic state it is wholly unacceptable and
morally abhorrent to use terror, violence and intimidation of
innocent people as a means of effecting political change.”
Association of Medical Research’s Dr Simon Festing said
SPEAK’s “claims that they’re legitimate are
ridiculous, there is always an escalation to threatening letters
and threatening phone calls.” The University reasserted that
while “we respect people’s rights to protests lawfully,
we will not accept unlawful harassment. The building will go ahead."ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2004