Rebecca Pinnington expresses her distress at the inadequate response to her latest FOI request.
Remember the film Inception, directed by esteemed UCL graduate Christopher Nolan? Of course you do, you weren’t born yesterday. And if you’ve been at UCL for more than ten minutes, you’ll also know that part of it was filmed in the Gustave Tuck lecture theatre. That’s right – we have stood where Leonardo DiCaprio once stood. It’s a damn sight more exciting than Jeremy Bentham.
But knowing Inception was filmed in Gustave Tuck was not enough for this keen-nosed student journalist. I needed to know everywhere in UCL Leonardo DiCaprio had been. Did he go to the toilet? Where did he go – the ones downstairs in the South Wing, closest to Gustave Tuck, or the locked ones by the Provost’s office labelled ‘EXECUTIVE TOILET’? How long did he take? Can we speculate on how big of a poo he did? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT MATTER, PEOPLE.
Like every other human being on this planet, I just wanted to walk in the footsteps of Leo. I wanted to breathe the same air, to sit at the same desk. So I endeavoured to find out the only way I knew how: an FOI request. I’m a journalist, not a detective.
I asked UCL what rooms Inception had used, and where Leonardo DiCaprio had been in UCL. In fact, I actually used the phrase, “Where can I go if I would like to touch the same surface as Leonardo DiCaprio?” I don’t like to beat around the bush. This is vital information.
Well, I have now got my answer, and it is inadequate to say the least.
Firstly, it took UCL well over the legal maximum period of 20 days to give me my information. “Fine,” I thought, “They’re probably just being especially thorough because they realise how important this information is, not only to me, but to the entire UCL student body.” Alas, to expect thoroughness and competence from one of the best universities in the world appears to be too much.
That’s right: “The filming of inception took place in the Gustav Tuck Theatre in 2009.” UCL responded to my extremely important FOI request with easily Google-able information, nay, with common knowledge, and did not even bother spelling Gustave Tuck correctly.
This is disgusting. How can the staff of UCL Data Protection and FOI sleep at night, knowing they have so blatantly trampled on my rights to information that is in the public interest? Do they not understand that I need to know precisely where Leonardo DiCaprio walked, where he stood, which toilet he used? No, that is not creepy, it is PUBLIC INTEREST. The Gustave Tuck lecture theatre cannot be reached without walking through other parts of UCL – so which parts were they? Did he use the stairs, or the lift? Perhaps we will never know.
The government is planning on exempting universities from FOI, but clearly this will be no change for UCL, who already seem to think they’re above accountability to the student body.
I. Am. Appalled.
Featured image: Wikipedia
Other images: Giphy