Page last updated at: Thu, 12 November 2009 12:28 PM GMT Printable version

Sit-in students may face disciplinary action

by Will Harmon, Lucy Doyle and Chuk Ikéh

Two members of the 'Oppose' group could face disciplinary action after staging a two-day sit-in at the London College of Communication over course closures and staff cuts.

Louis Hartnoll, a third-year BA Creative Advertising student faces a possible three-day suspension, while LCC graduate Joana Pinto risks losing her alumni status.

On the evening of November 9, Pinto - leader of the Oppose LCC Redundancies group – and Hartnoll, organised a sit-in in the main lecture theatre.

The following day, dozens of students joined the group in the main lecture theatre with several more opting to stay overnight.

However on the morning of November 11, the group were confronted by management who requested that they leave the building.

Shortly after midday, Les Claridge, associate dean of the Faculty of Design addressed the group by stating: “At this moment in time, the University’s position is that we would like you to leave from this space. We would like you to do that voluntarily, rather than in any other way.”

'Identify yourself'

Claridge asked the students to hand over their ID cards in order for the management to identify them.

He said: “In identifying you, we are able to commence disciplinary action, which in the first instance is suspension. If there is a situation which constitutes a breach of peace, then I will phone the police.”

Claridge then left the lecture theatre for five minutes to let the group consider their next move.

Meanwhile, more students had assembled outside the lecture theatre in support of the group, but were refused entry by specially contracted security staff.

Reinforcements denied

Security staff attempt to remove protesters [Victoria Mullins]Outside the theatre, Claridge was confronted by Ronan Glynn, a third year BA Media Practice student who said: “Why aren’t we allowed in to discuss with them what they are going to take up? We are part of the group!”

Claridge said: “At this moment in time, I’m only concerned with those people who are in that room. I’m just going to go through the process of discussing the issue with them and opening a dialogue with them.”

“By threatening them?” replied Glynn.

Fearing suspension, several students then left the theatre leaving only Pinto and Hartnoll inside; the remaining security staff then entered in an effort to remove them.

Glynn and several other students then sat down and blocked all entrances to the lecture theatre in support of Pinto and Hartnoll

Lock down

More security staff were summoned and attempted to forcefully eject the students outside the theatre, but were stopped by Jonathan Leader, a concerned LCC tutor.

Leader asked them: “What right do you have to be touching those people? If you touch them, you’ll be accused of assault!”

About an hour later, the Police arrived and confronted Glynn and the students blocking the lecture theatre doors.

After a telephone call to Pinto, Glynn agreed to allow the officers into the theatre to discuss the situation.

Meanwhile, security staff locked the main entrance to the college, leaving students who were not involved in the protests unable to enter or exit the building.

Chris Killick, a disabled LCC photography student who was being prevented from entering the building, tried to force open the doors: “I’m worried my course will be cut,” he told Arts London News.

'Peaceful end'

A peaceful end to the sit-in [Jack Laurenson]

At around 3.30 pm Boma Hart – a third year PR student who is also part of the Oppose movement, announced to the crowd gathered outside the lecture theatre: “They [Pinto and Hartnoll] are not getting anywhere so they’ve agreed to peacefully end the sit-in.”

Prior to the end of the sit-in, Sandra Kemp the Head of College at LCC, issued a statement regarding the sit-in, saying: “As always, our priority is to ensure the college runs normally and that students are not affected adversely by any disruption."

See also: Protests at LCC widen

 


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