Sam Fearnley reports on the student protest during UCL’s open days
300 UCL protesters from various political groups came together yesterday to warn prospective students about its deep ‘ethical issues’. Three main groups, UCL Fossil Free, UCL Cut the Rent and UCL Why Is My Curriculum White, united in protest during the two UCL open days.
The protest began with UCL Fossil Free distributing fake UCL leaflets to the future students. One of the farcical student profiles read:
It’s great to work with companies like BHP Billiton. Their efforts to completely ignore climate science are highly commendable. After my PhD I plan to help them create more ridiculous short term profits at the expense of the Global South and our Earth’s climate.
The main protest began, like most, on Malet street, next to Student Central, with abundant megaphones and banners. Shahrar Ali, the Deputy Leader of the Green Party, also came to show his support. Groups such as UCL Fossil Free and UCL Cut the Rent then made a loud move down Malet place through to the cloisters.
— Brick Lane Debates (@BLDebates) July 3, 2015
Once all protesters had made their way into the cloisters, each campaign spoke about why their aims matter. Later, the campaigners spoke to the prospective students and their parents. According to UCL Fossil Free, many students showed genuine interest in the protest and various campaigns, saying:
Many reacted with dismay to find out about UCL’s investments in fossil fuels, institutionalised racism, poor but expensive student housing, and the frustrating lack of meaningful dialogue with administration.
One potential future student, Jenessa, was enlightened by UCL Fossil Free and said:
Universities should lead the way on fossil fuel divestment.
— Freedom Press (@Freedom_Paper) July 3, 2015
Hajera Begum, member of Why Is My Curriculum White and the current BME student officer, told Pi:
It is important that students, especially those from BME backgrounds, know of the widespread structural racism at UCL before applying. I’ve spoken to several BME prospective students today who were extremely grateful to me for letting them know the truth about this aspect of UCL.
David Dahlborn, UCLU’s Halls and Accommodation Officer, commented:
UCL residents are protesting housing conditions that have been described as unbearable and have been causing harm and injury through exposure to excessive noise, pest infestations and dust particles. This is a campaign against not only the university landlords, but also a strike that has set a new standard in the London-wide struggle against rising rents and declining living conditions. Despicable attempts to evict overseas students and stop them from graduating from an institution that calls itself a “global university” should give way to engagement with the strikers’ demands.
Later on, the protest moved back to Malet street, but not before passing by the provost’s office.
The turnout was lower than expected (300 rather than 500) but the protest did receive national attention. Outlets including the BBC, RT UK and Vice news picked up the story. There was also widespread interest on social media.
— Oscar Webb (@owebb) July 3, 2015
Some action continued today.
All image credits: UCL Fossil Free
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