Students, alumni and locals unite to protest against Pantycelyn closure

APPROXIMATELY 150 people braved strong winds and driving rain to protest against the University’s closure of Pantycelyn halls on Saturday (15th), with proposals to move Welsh students to a section of the new Penglais Farm accommodation.

Welsh Language Officer, Eiri A Sion, considered the rally to be to be a chance for the University to see that the closing of Pantycelyn would not only be a tragedy for Welsh speaking students here in Aberystwyth, but also a national loss.  Photo - Alex Tanton

Welsh Language Officer, Eiri A Sion, considered the rally to be to be a chance for the University to see that the closing of Pantycelyn would not only be a tragedy for Welsh speaking students here in Aberystwyth, but also a national loss.
Photo – Alex Tanton

Guest speakers, led by UMCA president Mared Ifan, gave speeches to the assembled crowd in Pantycelyn car park before marching into the town centre. Current students from the university were joined by alumni, ex-staff members with connections to Pantycelyn and locals to call upon the university to reconsider its move, saying it would damage the Welsh community in Aberystwyth and the principality as a whole.

In a statement given to ASM, Mared said that: “We’re very happy at the turnout today, despite the horrible weather. We have seen people of all ages from small children with their parents to the elderly showing their support and solidarity. The turnout shows it is an important issue, and we call upon the university to reconsider their position.”

There was a visible police presence throughout the day, with officers escorting the rally along public roads into the town centre, and officers also deployed during the initial speeches in Pantycelyn car park.

University staff reaffirmed the right of students to conduct peaceful protest and praised organisers for their collaborative working in the run up to the rally itself.

The previous day UMCA students had briefly occupied the Visualisation Centre before protesting outside while a seminar, held by the Institute of Welsh Politics, took place inside the boardroom. It was held under the Chatham House rule, on the protection of 70% Welsh strongholds, with PVC for Welsh and External-Affairs Rhodri Llywd Morgan in attendance. The holding of the seminar under the Chatham House rule means that the information itself can be discussed, but not the identity of anybody present, who had said it or what their affiliation might be in relation to any comments.

A gallery of photos from the day can be found below.

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