On 22 February LSE students occupied their Director’s Office in protest at the institution’s links with the Libyan regime. The occupation ended on 23 February after they won their demands. Here is their report.
At 11am on February 23rd, a dozen students at the London School of Economics (LSE) stormed the office of Howard Davies, Director of the LSE, around a series of demands (below) regarding the schools associations with the Gaddafi family.
The LSE accepted £300,000 from a foundation run by Saif Gaddafi who is a graduate of the LSE. In light of recent events, the LSE has refused to accept the additional £1.2m they were expecting from the Gaddafi foundation.
80 Students who had occupied the Senior Common Room overnight after an emergency meeting on February 22nd, moved to Howard Davies’ office early today. Students held a rally of 150 LSE students outside Howard Davies’ office at 12pm. The student occupiers left the office and ended the sit-in at 4pm after Howard Davies agreed to support for £150,000 (half the donation) to the Libyan people in the form of scholarships to underprivileged students from Libya the University also put out a statement during the occupation stating:
“The LSE Director notes the message from some LSE students. He shares the students’ revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya, and much regrets the association of the School’s name with Saif Gaddafi and the actions of the Libyan regime.”
Ashok Kumar, LSE Students’ Union Education Officer, stated “LSE students have forced the LSE to grow a conscience. We will continue to push the university to establish ethical investment, contracting, and donation policies as well as getting all the £300,000 back to the people of Libya.”
Emma Kelly, International History student at the LSE and one of the occupiers in Howard Davies’ office, proclaimed after walking out of the sit-in: “Today was an absolute success! When we were in the office Howard told us that he felt ‘ashamed’ for accepting the money in the first place. We won all of our demands except for the revocation of Saif Gaddafi’s alumni status.”
These students were demanding:
a) A public statement by the LSE administration denouncing the recent gross violations of human rights by the Gaddafi regime and Saif Gaddafi’s violent threats against the protesters in Libya
b) A formal commitment by the LSE refraining from cooperating with the Libyan regime and any other dictatorial regimes that are known to be implicated in gross violations of human rights.
c) Rejecting the rest of the yearly installments that are being received from the £1.5 Million donation of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) and work towards creating a scholarship fund for underprivileged Libyan students using the £300k that LSE has already accepted and not spent yet.
d) Revoking Saif Gaddafi’s LSE alumni status, as his public statement on Sunday 20th of February and the various reports issued by International Human Rights Organisations clearly demonstrate that he is implicated in the killing of innocent civilians as well as other human rights violations. His association with the LSE community and particularly its student body is a disgrace that is not tolerated by the LSE staff, students and alumni.
e) Publicly committing that no grants from officials of such oppressive regimes will be accepted in the future by establishing a set of standards and a process of democratic decision-making with student representation that determines whether or not the School should accept money coming from controversial donors.
Failing to do these would not only betray the LSE’s ethical values, it would also tarnish the School’s reputation in a region whose people are currently fighting to reclaim their freedom from corrupt dictatorships–and are winning the fight so far.