Socialist Worker

Occupation at London School of Economics over Gaza

by Vlad Unkovski-Korica and Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2134

Over 40 pro Palestine students occupied a lecture theatre at the London School of Economics (LSE) on Thursday afternoon to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and stops investing in arms companies that supply the Israeli military.

Around 30 students held the occupation over night and have a rolling program of postering, leafleting and speakers throughout the day to publicise the occupation across campus and encourage people to join it.

Students entered the Old Theatre and sat down on the stage after the Students' Union passed a motion in support of their demands. A lecture continued as scheduled with the students on the stage.

The group wants the LSE director to issue a statement condemning the Israeli violence in Gaza. The group is also demanding that LSE divests from arms firm BAE Systems, an arms company who supply the Israeli military.

'The fact that LSE invests in BAE Systems means that it is directly profiting from the collective punishment of the Gazan people. Our university will remain tainted for as long as it is funded by unlawful military aggression. The LSE must divest from BAE and other arms companies immediately.” A student said.

The LSE also invests in arms companies Boeing, Rolls Royce and BHP Billiton, a firm that supplies nuclear material for warheads.

The students have also issued several demands related to providing material support for Palestinian students including providing five fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students, books and computers for Palestinian universities and facilitation for fund raising activities.

Over 250 students and academics wrote to Director Howard Davies at the beginning of the year demanding a statement and other demands similar to those being demanded by the occupation. Davies agreed to waiver application fees for students affected by the crisis but refused to issue a condemnatory statement, pledge further material assistance or support divestment from arms firms.

Davies claimed that the School does not take positions on 'political issues'. This is in stark contrast to an overtly political statement issued by the Davies in May 2007 condemning a UCU (University and College Union) resolution concerning the Israeli Occupation, and previous condemnations by LSE of South African Apartheid and the Tiananmen Square massacre in the 1980s.

Go to the LSE Solidarity with Gaza website for more details and updates »

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