What’s the beef at Edinburgh Uni? Students clash on controversial beef ban vote

BEEF between students at the University of Edinburgh will finally be resolved after voting on a motion to cease the sale of the meat product within student association cafés and restaurants concluded today.

The controversial motion was brought forward at an University of Edinburgh student council meeting in late January, making it the first Scottish university to vote on a beef ban.

Elena Silverstein, a student who attends the university, set up the petition and was involved in bringing this proposal forward to the student council.

“Ceasing the sale of beef in the students’ association cafes and shops would be a highly impactful way of reducing our university’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Silverstein told EN4 News.

“The climate crisis is something we all need to take more seriously and we will certainly not be immune to its effects here in Scotland.”

Silverstein believes that although eating beef is up to the individual, the university should not be encouraging it.

“The motion simply stops people from causing environmental damage through the university. Any student has the absolute freedom in Edinburgh to buy as much beef as they choose but I feel that being unable to purchase beef in student shops and cafes is a small step in the right direction to combating climate change.

“I am pleased, no matter how this vote goes, that we are discussing such an important issue.”

Last week’s meeting found that 76 votes in favour and 73.5 against, resulting in the motion being put to an online ballot.

The potential ban has split student opinion and led to fierce debate across the university and beyond.

Veterinary student, Sarah Whitelaw attended the debate and spoke to EN4 News.

“Coming from a rural area, I was taken aback that this motion was even proposed,” Whitelaw said.

“I was in utter disbelief that this could feasibly happen in such a large and diverse university – inclusive of all cultures.

“I have received messages from as far as New Zealand about the shock and outrage of this motion and I only hope this support doesn’t go unnoticed.”

The environmental impact of eating beef (Credit: Rhi Ramsay)

The “beef” has continued to sizzle throughout the week.

A 20-strong group of agricultural students from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) claimed they were denied the chance to vote due to not being directly matriculated within the university.

The students from Scotland’s Rural College told EN4 News: “We felt secluded from the meeting as we did not get chosen to propose an argument, despite being some of the first people to raise our hands.”

The rump of the beef continued to stew in the lead up to today’s voting deadline, and was further only further seared when third year student Benedict Willacy promised to buy a steak for every student who votes against the ban.

“This promise will help celebrate a fantastic British legacy that is the production and consumption of beef. The only thing this motion will succeed in doing is harming Britain’s post-Brexit farming industry,” Willacy told EN4 News.

While he agrees more action is needed on climate change, Willacy believes a beef ban is not the way forward.

“Banning beef on campus is like putting a plaster on a haemorrhage wound – it simply isn’t enough,” he added.

“This motion is a symbol of EUSA’s (Edinburgh University’s Student Association) authoritarian regime.

“It’s about changing the dynamic of student politics. It’s about being heard. It’s about saying ‘no’.”

Results are expected following the conclusion of voting this morning.

 

What is the mood on campus?

EN4 News spoke to University of Edinburgh students in George Square about the controversial vote

Pia: “I’m a vegan and I 100% support it for the animals and for the environment.”

Marie: “I think it should be the consumer’s choice and if nobody buys it then it’s fair to not sell it anymore but I think it shouldn’t be imposed and if you are arguing for sustainability I think it would be smarter to argue for making it local or making it organic meat. In that case banning all meat is quite a random way to argue for a sustainable cause.”

Daniel: “I think it is a good idea. They should do it, I’m all in favour of it.”

Greg: “I think it is a bad thing to force the students. People should have the choice to eat beef or not. They shouldn’t be forced into vegetarianism so I would be kind of against it to be honest because you should be able to eat beef if you want to.”

Rebecca: “You can buy food outside of the university, but I guess it’s up to the students.”

Scott: “I don’t like the idea of it. You’re forcibly restricting people’s diets. I understand the environmental implications at the same time. I feel like it should be a personal choice. It is not something that should be mandated by officials rather than someone’s own personal agency.”

 

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