New Year, New Building

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the next stage of our Union Upgrade project. It promises to be a pretty exciting year ahead for the LUU building as it takes shape before our eyes.

The last term started with the revealing of the spaces refurbished over the summer. The project overall continues to be on track although some individual elements are delayed, as the various sub-contracted parts need to come together. It was great to receive feedback from students about the new spaces, even though we know these are not yet at their full potential.

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The Foyer has now been opened up

The main changes visitors will see over the next few weeks are around the entrances to the building. In the last week before Christmas, the remaining demolition work around the new atriums was happening overnight, impacting access on the Refectory side. The main foyer has now started to be sectioned into parts for refurbishment, which includes revealing the new opening to the first floor. 

It was great to see the new lift installed at the side of the stage in the Riley Smith Theatre at the end of December. During January, the dressing rooms will be finished allowing the lift to be fully commissioned and completed. As with all our spaces, expect this to be the start of further refining and developing the areas based on student feedback. Next to the theatre is the new Terrace kitchen now with an increased capacity and flexibility.

The next term is going to fly by – with the Leadership Race in February and the usual buzz of society and sports events bringing energy to our campus – hopefully by Easter we will see all the major parts of the construction project completed and ready to use.

Good luck to everyone studying for January exams and I hope you enjoy the term ahead.

Aidan

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Showing 28 comments
  • Pedro Fuentes
    Reply

    Aidan Grills
    Chief Exec of Leeds University Union
    I am writing to you on behalf of the Chilean Community Association, South Yorkshire (ChileScda) after we heard about the Union Upgrade Project taking place at the Student Union Building, specifically the area where a Chilean mural has been for the last 42 years. This mural came into gaining such an important place in the Union as it is a very emotive piece which reflects the history and lives of many Leeds residents who came to this city after a very horrific time in Chile, South America.
    In 1973 the democratic government led by President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. The consequences of this military coup resulted in thousands of people murdered, tortured, disappeared and exiled.
    As a result, a great number of refugees arrived in Leeds from 1974 thanks to the support of trades unions and students at Leeds University. Many became students at Leeds University and supported the campaign against the brutal regime. One activity backed by the Student Union of the time was to paint this mural in 1975 to remind everybody about what was going on in Chile under the dictatorship.
    During late 70’s and 80’s this kind of muralism became an expression of aesthetic resistance against the neoliberal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
    We would like to request the LUU to find a way of rescuing and preserving this mural which has so much significance and memories for the Chilean Community in Leeds, and beyond, and is a constant reminder of how united the Leeds University Student Union and the Chilean Community were at that time.
    I understand that life has to go on but the consequences of the dictatorship in Chile are still present and justice has not been achieved to punish the crimes committed by them and for thousands of ex political prisoners.
    As you can see the mural has seen better days but it is still visible and we would like it to be restored and preserved as a memory from that historic period!
    We do hope it is not too late and wait for your reply and advice of what we could do to help you to achieve this.
    Yours sincerely
    Pedro Fuentes, Chair
    Chilean Community Association, South Yorkshire
    admin@chilescda.org

  • Tricia Sheerer
    Reply

    Dear Aidan Grills,
    I am writing to you after hearing about the ‘Union Upgrade Project’ taking place at the Student Union Building, specifically the area where a Chilean mural has been for the last 42 years.
    This mural holds an important place in the Union as it is a very emotive piece which reflects the history and lives of many Leeds residents who came to this city after a very horrific time in Chile, South America.
    In 1973 the democratic government led by President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. The consequences of this military coup resulted in thousands of people murdered, tortured, disappeared and exiled.
    As a result, a great number of refugees arrived in Leeds from 1974 thanks to the support of trades unions and students at Leeds University. Many became students at Leeds University and supported the campaign against the brutal regime. One activity backed by the Student Union of the time was to paint this mural in 1975 to remind everybody about what was going on in Chile under the dictatorship.
    During late 70’s and 80’s this kind of muralism became an expression of aesthetic resistance against the neoliberal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
    I would like to request the LUU to find a way of rescuing and preserving this mural which has so much significance and memories for the Chilean Community in Leeds, and beyond, and is a constant reminder of how united the Leeds University Student Union and the Chilean Community were at that time.
    The consequences of the dictatorship in Chile are still present and justice has not been achieved to punish the crimes committed by them and for thousands of ex-political prisoners.
    As you can see the mural has seen better days but it is still visible and we would like it to be restored and preserved as a memory from that historic period!
    We do hope it is not too late and wait for your reply and advice of what we could do to help you to achieve this.
    Should it be too late, I have no doubt that the Chilean communities in South Yorkshire and their many supporters, like myself, would be very keen to replace the mural.
    Thank you,
    Yours sincerely,
    Tricia Sheerer

  • Benjamin W. Vergara-Carvallo PhD
    Reply

    Dear Aidan Grills
    Chief Exec of Leeds University Union
    We are writing to you on behalf of the Leeds Chilean Community and the Chilean Community Association South Yorkshire (ChileScda) after we heard about the ‘Union Upgrade Project’ taking place at the Student Union Building, specifically the area where a Chilean mural has been for the last 42 years.
    This mural came into gaining such an important place in the Union as it is a very emotive piece which reflects the history and lives of many Leeds residents who came to this city after a very horrific time in Chile, South America.
    In 1973 the democratic government led by President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. The consequences of this military coup resulted in thousands of people murdered, tortured, disappeared and exiled.
    As a result, a great number of refugees arrived in Leeds from 1974 thanks to the support of trades unions and students at Leeds University. Many became students at Leeds University and supported the campaign against the brutal regime. One activity backed by the Student Union of the time was to paint this mural in 1975 to remind everybody about what was going on in Chile under the dictatorship.
    During late 70’s and 80’s this kind of muralism became an expression of aesthetic resistance against the neoliberal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
    We would like to request the LUU to find a way of rescuing and preserving this mural which has so much significance and memories for the Chilean Community in Leeds, and beyond, and is a constant reminder of how united the Leeds University Student Union and the Chilean Community were at that time.
    We understand that life has to go on but the consequences of the dictatorship in Chile are still present and justice has not been achieved to punish the crimes committed by them and for thousands of ex-political prisoners.
    As you can see the mural has seen better days but it is still visible and we would like it to be restored and preserved as a memory from that historic period!
    We do hope it is not too late and wait for your reply and advice of what we could do to help you to achieve this.
    Yours sincerely
    Gilberto Hernánde, Leeds Chilean Community
    Pedro Fuentes, Chilean Community Association, South Yorkshire (ChileScda)
    Benjamin W. Vergara-Carvallo, Association of Ex-Political Prisoners and Victim of Torture

  • Sue Owen
    Reply

    Dear Aidan Grills
    Please do not remove the Chilean mural when you carry out renovations.
    This mural is an important part of the history of Chileans who came to Leeds after the democratic government led by President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military junta headed by General Pinochet. The military coup resulted in thousands of people being murdered, tortured, disappeared and exiled. A number of Chilean refugees came to Leeds and created the mural as commemoration of the suffering of the Chilean people, and it forms part of the history of the city of Leeds.
    Yours sincerely
    Sue Owen

  • Jesus
    Reply

    Please save the chilean mural found in the student union or at least give the chance for a referendum about it.

    That mural is part of the history of the university,
    and hence, it should be the students who decide whether if they want to keep it or not.

  • Rodrigo Contreras
    Reply

    Hi!
    I’m Rodrigo, a Chilean PhD student on Earth and Environment.

    I received the news last week about Chilean mural in the Union Building. With more Chileans here in the university we are requesting to Save that part of our history.
    As UK has started a process of separation from the european union, the university could give a strong message of inclusion by restoring or including such kinds of forms of art from different countries all over the world.
    I’d love to see a part of Chile in this beautiful university. And also more art from other countries!

    Cheers!

  • Kate Clark
    Reply

    Please save the lovely Chilean mural which is so typical of Latin American muralist art.

    If restored, the mural will add greatly to the university building and will serve as a reminder to new generations of students as to why it was painted back in the seventies.
    Thanking you for your attention

  • Cheryl Quinn
    Reply

    Dear Aidan,

    The UNION UPGRADE PROJECT relating to the Student Union Building in Leeds has just been brought to my attention, & specifically the impact that this will have on the Chilean mural. A mural that is a ‘lasting’ memorial to the history and lives of many Leeds residents who fled to this country from South America … I say lasting but that is until now. Therefore I would like to request that the LUU not only finds a way of rescuing this mural but also of preserving & renovating it within the new complex.

    I hope that my message is not too late and I wait on your reply.

    Yours sincerely

    Ms C.Quinn

  • Alberto
    Reply

    Hello!
    I think the Chilean mural in the LUU building is a piece of historical art and it should be preserved. I would really like it to be preserved so everyone can see it and learn a bit about Chile and its history.

  • Chris
    Reply

    I am interested to hear about your development at Leeds. Please make all efforts possible to restore and preserve the Chilean mural there. Telling the story of the refugees that escaped and came to UK and Leeds in particular is very important to the Chilean community in the UK.

  • Luisa Fletcher
    Reply

    To Aidan Grills
    CE of Leeds university Union

    I think it is very important to keep this mural in order to keep memory of this part of history of Chile and The University. The University opened its arms to welcome Chilean refugees who escaped the tyranny of Pinochet. The Chilean community celebrated this gesture and as a sign of appreciation, and in order to mark this important event in history, painted the mural. It is part of the building and its history. Modernisation is good, but it is also important to keep the meaningful elements of the building, which symbolise solidarity, survival, universalism, freedom, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and struggle against the evils of society. The mural needs to be restored and improved, but not destroyed. Please keep the mural.

  • Cora Hopwood
    Reply

    Dear Aidan, please find a way to preserve the mural painted by the exiled Chilean community as part of the Union upgrade. It is hugely resonant for the Leeds as a whole and for future students to appreciate the importance of solidarity with those fleeing injustice and persecution. It is more relevant now than ever and inspiring to young people who feel powerless to help people currently facing trauma and displacement.
    Thank you.

  • Miranda Mihkelson
    Reply

    Please do not destroy the striking and historically significant Chilean mural!

  • Peter Anderson
    Reply

    Please can you save the Chilean mural.

  • Loreto Aliaga
    Reply

    As a Chilean student at Leeds, it would be great if the mural found at LUU could be saved and restored, or moved somewhere else to remember the role of Chilean students and citizens that fled my country in times of dictatorship and distress.
    All the Chilean students at Leeds University, and Chilean citizens living in the UK, would be very thankful if you could find a space for it somewhere at the university as part of the art trail at the university, for example. It is a piece of history that needs to be preserved to not to forget what occurred in Chile, so it never ever happens again.

  • Lautaro Vargas
    Reply

    Dear Aidan,

    I was 4 years old when I arrived in the UK with my father and brother after fleeing Chile. My dad had been tortured, imprisoned without trial for almost 2 years, my mother was held for 3. Others never made it out. Many of those who did have the warmth of the British people, including the universities and student unions, to thank, this mural is emblematic of that sanctuary and the pockets of resistance that gave Chilean refugees hope during a terrible time. Please save it.

  • Susie Plant
    Reply

    Dear Aidan Grills,
    I hope that you will ensure the preservation of the Chilean mural. It is of enormous significance to the many Chileans who studied at Leeds and to local history.
    Kind regards,
    Susie Plant

  • James Hynes
    Reply

    There are not many places which can boast of having a mural supporting the political exiles from Chile. Surely you would not destroy it! That would really be an act of violence.

  • Marisa Wharton
    Reply

    Dear Aidan: I am a former student of Leeds University and I am writing to you to request that you reconsider the fate of the Chilean Mural dated 1975 in your building. I am from Argentina, but most importantly I am Latinamerican, an identity born of shared history and struggles against imperialism that goes beyond our borders; moreover, just as Chile, many Latinamerican countries suffered repressive regimes, crimes against humanity were the norm,it is acknowledged as genocide: we had our own holocausts. I grew up under the Argentinian military government, there alone, 30.000 people disappeared, taken into concentration camps and tortured and executed, Thousands were political prisoners under the regime, children born in captivity were stolen and even today they are regaining their identity.
    This mural represents a piece of history, a piece of memory for all us Latinamericans in Leeds and the UK; it also represents part of the history of Leeds University Union and its political stand for human rights, international solidarity and a conscientious student movement at the time.
    Please, do not let this mural vanish, it is our memory and part of your people’s memory too. Latinamericans, just as any other BME, are part of the Leeds community and of the university population, it is your duty to respect our heritage as you would with others.
    I hope your Union have the heart and the uncompromising social responsibility to save the mural even if that means relocating it to another place.
    Many Thanks,
    Marisa Wharton
    Alumni- School of Geography, School of Public Health

  • Phil Maxwell
    Reply

    Please save & restore the Chilean mural.

  • Alice Jelinek
    Reply

    Dear Aidan Grills,

    Please could you contact me urgently about saving the Chilean mural from the walls of the Student Union before it is refurbished.

    I moved to Leeds from London to attend Leeds University in 1998, and my stepfather was one of the original Chilean refugees who found shelter in the UK from Pinochet.

    I feel this mural represents a significant part of my own heritage and that of others. Please could you contact me ASAP to discuss options for saving the mural, either in situ or at another possible site in Leeds.

    Thanks,
    Alice Jelinek

  • Sara De Witt
    Reply

    Dear Mr Grills, please help to save the Chilean mural painted some 42 years ago inside the SU’s building. This work is part of the Union and The Chilean history. I came as a refugee to the Uk after being 2 years in prison, I am grateful for the solidarity showed to me by this country and its people. I did a BA at Bradford University and I was then acquainted with the mural and the solidarity from Leeds University towards my community.
    The message of the mural,is still valid, the missing people are still missing since the Chilean Army refuses to provide thei where about of the bodies. I am myself still waiting from justice from the Chilean legal system.

    Thank you

  • sergio contreras
    Reply

    AIDAN GRILLS
    THIS LINES ARE TO SUPPORT THE CHILEAN MURAL nOT TO BE DESTROYED, AS IT’S HISTORICALLY MEANINGFUL TO A LOT OF PEOPLE
    THAT VALUE ART & CULTURE
    THANK YOU
    SERGIO CONTRERAS
    SHEFFIELD

  • Eduardo Espinoza
    Reply

    Dear Aidan,
    Please save the Chilean mural, it reflects the memory of chilean studens of Leeds University who scape the dictatorship of Pinochet in the seventies. I went to Leeds Polytechnic but spent time with my compatriots in Leeds University.

  • Mike Gatehouse
    Reply

    Dear Aidan,
    I support the letter sent to you by Gilberto Hernández and Pedro Fuentes, urging the preservation and restoration of the Chile mural at the Student Union.

    During the 1970s I was the national Joint Secretary of Chile Solidarity Campaign (to which NUS and many individual student unions were affiliated). In Leeds we worked closely with Barry Cooper, the distinguished mathematician and later Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University. Barry was hugely loved among the local Chilean refugee community for his work in the local solidarity campaign to settle them. I am sure that had he lived, Barry too would have urged you to preserve the mural as an artifact which symbolises the city’s and the university’s commitment to internationalism. In the present climate of post-Brexit xenophobia, we can ill afford to lose living memories of the better humanitarian feelings which in truth predominate among students and the wider population.
    Best wishes,
    Mike Gatehouse
    former national Joint Secretary, Chile Solidarity Campaign.

  • Jimmy Diaz
    Reply

    por favor, salven el Mural de 1975 contra la Dictadura Chilena…

  • Keith Jackson
    Reply

    Congratulations on the new development, and particularly for so sensibly responding to comments about the Chilean mural. This is a great opportunity to make the artwork a centrepiece for the new development with an indication of its significance, both for the Union and as a historical record. I write as chair of the Chile 40 Years On a network organisation set up on the fortieth anniversary of the Chilean coup, in 2013. There were many events commemorating the US backed coup and the courage of Chilean resistance. For example a large portrait of Victor Jara musician and leading figure in the Popular Unity movement, to which Chilean refugees in Britain belonged, was presented to UNITE Wales in Cardiff. You are in good company if you take a similar step.

  • Ann Wright
    Reply

    please save the Chilean mural, the paint fades but time does not erase its importance in the memory of the people who painted it and lived througn that period. Please help,best wishes Ann Wright

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