Students Have Occupied LSE Demanding Fairer and Better Education
This morning the London School of Economics woke to find their university occupied by a group of 40 students, most of them studying post-graduate degrees, protesting for better education. The Occupy LSE movement have locked themselves in the Vera Anstey room in one of LSE’s central buildings.
In a statement released on their Facebook and Tumblr pages, Occupy LSE asks the university to put an end to their ‘business model of higher education’ in which students are trapped in debt and turned into consumers.
I spoke to one of the occupants, post-graduate Natalie Fiennes, to find out more about their situation and their plans. Fiennes says that the movement had been planned for about 10 days, and that a large group of students had shown a ‘general discontent’ with the way the elite university is ran.
“Our voices are not being heard”, she says of the motivations behind the decision to occupy LSE.
The Free University of London, as the occupied space has been renamed, will be a host of workshops and discussions to foment the sharing of knowledge and opinions. Each workshop will follow a different theme, and some guests will be invited to engage with the students during the occupation.
The statement summarises their 5 demands for the LSE:
1. Free and universal education
– Occupy LSE is demanding the scrapping of tuition fees for both domestic and international students.
2. Improved workers rights
– The group is asking for real job security for workers at the university, fair remuneration and a narrowing of the wage gap between the highest and lowest paid employees.
3. University Democracy
– The group is working towards a student-staff council, elected by students, and academic and non-academic staff, to make all management decisions.
– Occupy LSE demands that the university cuts its ties with ‘exploitative and destructive organisations’, especially those involved in militarised occupations and those contributing to the ‘destruction of the planet’.
– The movement is demanding a zero-tolerance policy to harassment in line with many motions supported by student representatives throughout this year.
– A demand that the university rejects the implementation of the Counter Terrorism Bill.
– Occupy LSE also say that police should be prevented from acting on campus.
– The group is also fighting for the LSE to become a safe and free space from all types of discrimination such as sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia, and religious discrimination.
– The group, made of 40 students, also demands that the LSE reinstates the old ethics code and make it legally binding.
– The occupying students are also motivated in their movement to include international students. They demand that students from outside the European Union are offered equal security, especially when it comes to their visa status.
The movement has started to gather support among students and personalities external from the institution.
Renowned columnist and journalist Owen Jones will reportedly attend a workshop to listen to the student voice and show his support. Other students from around the world have also been sending messages of support and solidarity.
The occupation has, so far, no expiry date. The day will tell how the university reacts to the students’ claims and demands.
This story is developing.