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LSE statement on the end of the occupation of the Vera Anstey Room

Update- Friday 1st May:

The occupation of the Vera Anstey Room came to an amicable and peaceful end on the evening of 30th April. This followed a lengthy final discussion with the goal of ending the occupation by agreement rather than legal action.

Houghton StreetLSE has a long tradition of political engagement and dissent and the School recognises this as a legitimate part of our intellectual community.

At the same time, a number of events had raised concerns in the School that continuation of the occupation posed security risks, safety concerns and disruptions. This made it hard to balance the opportunity to express dissent with the well-being of the whole community.

The discussion leading to the end of occupation focused on identifying areas of common ground between the occupiers and the School’s wider agenda. It resulted in an agreement reaffirming many core commitments of LSE, such as public engagement, transparency and accountability in decision-making, and improving equality and diversity.

The agreement followed discussion with a specific group of students, but the issues involved are broader. LSE remains committed to working closely with its democratically-elected Students’ Union, which is the primary representative of student opinions and concerns.

The full agreement is available to read here: Agreement following the occupation of the Vera Anstey Room

Thank you for your patience during this period, and thank you to all who have worked hard to bring about this resolution.

Statement, Wednesday 29 April:

LSE is an institution that fosters the development of political thought and the School welcomes and supports legitimate political engagement and dissent by students. This includes vigorously upholding our students’ right to protest and their right to free speech.

Over the course of the past six weeks LSE has positively and constructively engaged with a small number of protestors occupying the Vera Anstey Room in protest over a wide range of Higher Education issues.

The School has made a number of offers in good faith where it recognises reasonable and legitimate concerns, especially those shared by our wider student body.

The protestors have made other demands that are simply unrealistic. Either they delegitimise existing legal, democratic and accountable frameworks, or they fall outside of the School’s own jurisdiction to make good on the changes sought.

The School remains disappointed and saddened that Occupy LSE has failed to recognise the great lengths taken to accommodate these demands and that it seeks to maintain its occupation indefinitely.

LSE is concerned that the Occupy group shows no sign of wishing to continue its political dialogue with School management while the occupation continues.

At the same time we note the intolerable pressures being placed on our staff by disorderly behaviour, the detrimental effects on the education of other students caused by deliberate disruption to lectures, and the risks to members of the School, including to the occupiers themselves, caused by the deliberate and persistent blocking of fire exits.

We are highly concerned by the appearance of non-LSE students on site including those demanding access to closed School buildings late at night. This goes to the heart of other anxieties we have over demands that LSE facilitates a permanent space for protest on campus including for non-members of the School.

While we continue to make every commitment to LSE students in support of their right to free speech, our allegiance and duty of care must remain with them and cannot be extended to outsiders. 

In the face of mounting concern, notably from other LSE students, the School has been forced into a position where it must take action. This is a matter of genuine regret.

LSE is a democratic and accountable institution that enshrines student participation in its decision-making at the highest level of the School as a point of principle. Student involvement in that process is legitimately represented by our Students’ Union and we will be consulting closely with them over the coming days.”

The written notice from the School to end the occupation of the Vera Anstey Room is available to read here: Occupation Notice

Wednesday 29 April 2015