Several colleges will close to visitors due to an animal rights protest planned for Saturday.
Protesters will descend upon Oxford from around the UK on Saturday, April 27th, to mark the World Day for Animals in Laboratories (WDAIL).
Though the protest is expected to be relatively peaceful, various colleges have cited noise issues that could affect revision for exams, as well as security concerns, as the reason for shutting their doors to tourists during the protests.
A press release from the organisers of the protest stated that the rally would begin at noon at Oxpens Recreation Ground and that the protesters would subsequently march around the city, ending up at the University Vivisection Laboratory on South Parks Road, where they plan to stop for two speeches in honour of the animals subject to University experiments.
The WDAIL group believes that “animal-based research has been shown to be seriously flawed due to fundamental difference in our anatomy and physiology,” and that the protest aims to highlight that “inflicting pain and suffering on innocent, healthy animals is not just immoral… but it is also highly dangerous.”
The group makes reference to “a long list of drugs which were passed safe following animal testing, which have gone on to maim and kill millions of human patients due to adverse drug reaction.” It claims that “around 18,000 people are killed every year by drugs which have been ‘successfully tested’ on animals, the fourth highest cause of premature death after cancer, heart disease and stroke.”
The University defends the practice of using animals in its medical and scientific research on an extensive section of its website, noting that “there is overwhelming scientific consensus worldwide that some research using animals is still essential for medical progress.” The university claims that the justification for the use of animals in research “is reflected in the law, which allows for animal research only under specific circumstances, and which sets out strict regulations on the use and care of animals,” and that animal research benefits animals as well, namely in the form of drugs used by vets developed originally for human medicine.
In response to the protest’s path through the city centre, several colleges on Broad and Turl streets have declared that they will be closing to visitors, regardless of lost revenue from foregone admissions charges.
A porter from Exeter College said the college would be closed that afternoon specifically due to the protesters’ presence, as well as to help students studying for their exams. Because of the march’s path around the corner of Parks and South Parks Rd, Keble also stated it would be closed for several hours while the protest take place. A porter at Brasenose, which charges two pounds per visitor, said that a decision would be taken pursuant to discussions that would probably take place closer to the day of the protests, as did New College, which also applies a fee for visitors. St John’s will also be closed to the public.
However, Christ Church and Wadham will remain open, depite being on the protest route. A porter at Wadham commented that the protesters have not caused the college any problems in the past, and that his college would remain open to visitors this weekend, free of charge as usual.