Welsh students to go on 48 hour hunger strike

MEMBERS of Aberystwyth’s Welsh-speaking student community have decided to go on a 48-hour hunger strike, starting this Thursday (3rd) at 5pm, that will run into the University’s Open Day on Saturday. The 37-strong group have opted to undergo the strike in protest to the University’s decision to close the Welsh halls of residence, Pantycelyn.

Photo of frustrated Save Pantycelyn supports on one of the previous strikes in efforts to save the halls.  Photo - Tomos Nolan

Frustrated ‘Save Pantycelyn’ supporters on one of the previous strikes in efforts to save the halls.
Photo – Tomos Nolan

Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth (UMCA) President and Welsh Affairs Officer Mared Ifan said, “Going on hunger strike is a serious act, this is non-violent direct action. It is therefore the personal decision of each student whether to do so as part of the wider campaign against the closure of Pantycelyn. In a way, this is 37 individual protests by 37 members of the Welsh language student community who want to show the University that they cannot ride roughshod over the Welsh language community here in Pantycelyn.

“UMCA continues to call on April McMahon and Emyr Jones Parry to change the University’s decision and to keep Pantycelyn open as a Welsh language halls of residence”.

Second year student Heledd Llwyd said, “We have been campaigning for months, but the University’s senior officers are ignoring our concerns about the closure of Pantycelyn.

“It is clear that students, staff and people across Wales feel that closing Pantycelyn will be a blow to the Welsh language community here, but the University is burying its head in the sand. We are going on hunger strike to show how seriously we take the situation, and to call on them once again not to close Pantycelyn.”

The campaign to Save Pantycelyn has gained national support, and although UMCA did not organised the hunger strike itself, they are providing support to the strikers via other students who support the campaign.

The fight to Save Pantycelyn continues, despite Aberystywth University’s statement on the matter, which explains the suitability of the new £45m Penglais Farm residences and their commitment to increasing Welsh Medium provision. The most recent protest against the University’s decision occurred on February 18th, where approximately 150 students, lecturers and guest speakers turned up in solidarity against the closure.