An art sculpture donated by a Malaysian businessman to Imperial College London has ruffled feathers among some of the students who say that the figure appears "phallic" and may hurt the reputation of the institution.
The Imperial College Union said while there was "nothing inherently wrong with phallic imagery in art", the sculpture dubbed "Alert" could "hurt the image and reputation of the college", UK paper The Guardian reported.
The artwork, which stands about 6m tall and is meant to resemble a human figure squatting, was given by Brahmal Vasudevan, an alumnus of Imperial College London, and his wife Shanthi Kandiah.
Brahmal, the founder and CEO of private equity firm Creador, said that he shared the college's vision "for a vibrant public space" in donating the sculpture by world-renowned artist Antony Gormley.
"I am deeply proud of my connection to Imperial and have fond memories of my time on campus as a student," he said in a statement on the university's website.
"I share the college’s vision for a vibrant public space, and am proud to bring this iconic, world-class piece of art by Antony Gormley to the heart of campus."
Gormley himself had said that he wished to explore the correlation between people and their environment in creating "Alert".
But the students said in their motion that it had an "obvious" interpretation of a person baring an erect penis, The Guardian reported.
Adding that the students had not been consulted about the installation of the sculpture, they said even its name could be understood as referring to such an interpretation.
In his statement also on the university's website, however, Gormley said he had wanted to "re-assess the relation between body and space".
"Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it the attitude of this sculpture is alive, alert and awake," he said.