Security called to Edinburgh University student meeting about whether to ban meat in canteens

Young farmers from Scottish Rural College told to leave

Friday, 31st January 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 5:02 pm
Security were called to Upper Hall at The Pleasance

A BEEF between students on whether to ban meat from canteens ended with one side of the debate being escorted out by security.

The motion was floated at Thursday night’s Edinburgh University student council meeting at The Pleasance as an eco-friendly move.

But when a contingent of young farmers from Scotland’s Rural College showed up to argue the opposing side they were told the hall was too full and given the boot.

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“Personally I think it’s ridiculous that motions voted for during this meeting, directly affected them and they were denied to even listen as they were deemed ‘intimidating’,” Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies student Sarah Whitelaw posted on Facebook.

'No opportunity' to counter-argue

The motion pointed to a 530-signature petition in favour of banning beef and pointed to other UK universities doing so.

It quoted various research on how giving up meat can cut greenhouse gas emissions and pollution while leading to healthier diets.

But 17 Scottish Rural College students, based at Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, turned up to argue most meat on offer at the university is Scottish - and to back the nation’s beef industry.

“Removing beef products from the university menu will help the aim of the motion in no way at all,” Ms Whitelaw added.

“British farming is one of the most sustainable industries we boast as a country - the majority of our landscape and countryside could simply not be utilised for anything other than livestock.

“The ‘for’ argument was weak and misinformed but sadly we didn’t get the opportunity to counter-argue.”

Although Scottish Rural College students study at Kings Buildings and get degrees awarded through the university - they are not enrolled directly and so were denied a vote on the motion.

“In the case of these students, the decision made by the vote would directly affect them - yet they were not allowed a say,” added Ms Whitelaw.

The results from the Student Council motion went ahead without the Scottish Rural College students and will be released on Monday afternoon.

Andrew Wilson, president of the Students’ Association which held Thursday’s meeting said only enrolled Edinburgh University students have the right to attend, vote and submit policy proposals at student council meetings.

Non-members are allowed to attend meetings if space is available but Thursday’s was full to capacity, added Mr Wilson.

“We empathise with the frustration felt by the SRUC students who were asked to leave by a member of staff involved in the running of the event, however unfortunately there was no alternative,” he added.

“In recognition of the strong feelings felt by the SRUC students on the motion to cease the sale of all beef products in students’ association cafes and restaurants they were provided with information on alternative routes to provide their feedback on the motion to and we would welcome that feedback.”