LSE Students sit-in
LSE Students sit-in 2
LSE students sit-in 3
LSE students sit-in
LSE students sit-in
LSE students sit-in
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Student Sit-In Halts LSE Oil Baron’s Lecture
LSE students this evening demonstrated their opposition to the appointment of current BP Chair, Peter Sutherland, as the prospective Chair of LSE Court of Governors by staging a mass sit-in and halting a public lecture that he was due to give at the university. Shortly before the beginning of the lecture, a large group of students entered the Old Theatre and took to the stage in peaceful demonstration, equipped with banners and placards outlining their opposition to his appointment and the human rights and environmental abuses that Sutherland has been implicated with throughout his career. At one point Sutherland attempted to begin his speech before being obstructed by the student demonstrators, who pledged not to leave until the school allowed a student-wide referendum on his appointment. This offer was refused by Sutherland and the School, and the event was eventually moved to an alternative venue after being delayed for almost an hour. A condensed version of the lecture was then given, although student press and activists were barred from entering by LSE security. Four police and four community support officers were called to the LSE campus to remove protestors.
Sutherland has been provisionally and controversially appointed as the new LSE Chair from 2008. Students are outraged that they were given no choice over the appointment and feel that his track record makes him totally unsuitable for the role. As Chair of BP, Sutherland is implicated in a series of human rights and environmental abuses across the world which undermine LSE's historic commitment to social justice and the "betterment of society". These abuses include: the Prudhoe Bay Alaskan Oil Spill, where BP spilled 265,000 oil barrels after being fined in 2002 for illegally failing to install a leak detection system promptly; the Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan (BTC) Oil Pipeline, where BP’s contracts have overriden social and environmental legislation and undermined human rights and similar infractions cocnering pipelines in West Papua, Colombia and the North Sea. Sutherland also has a record of advocating the marketisation of public services in his time at the WTO and students are concerned that he will lobby the government to lift the cap on top-up fees when it is reviewed in 2010.
A student-led campaign against Sutherland’s appointment began in the Spring, when several student governors raised their objections at the Court of Governors meeting that ratified his appointment. Immediately after the appointment was made public, several prominent student representatives voices their concerns and a petition has so far been signed by almost 500 students. Now various student groups have come together and have vowed to campaign until he recognises the depth and opposition and agrees not to take up the post.
A spokesperson for the students said, “Many students are dismayed at this appointment and there is a broad coalition that want to make it clear that we do not want someone with Sutherland’s abysmal track record of human rights and environmental abuses to be the figurehead of our university. LSE is famed for it’s commitment to social justice and human rights and this appointment contradicts our founding aims and ethos. LSE students protested over the appointment of a director associated with racial segregation in the 1960's so similarly we are now protesting against someone associated with environmental degradation and human rights abuses. We also see it as another clear indication that the School is embracing an increasingly marketised perspective and increase tuition fees even more. Our aim was to make it clear to Sutherland and the School that students oppose his appointment and the way it was made, given that LSE has not listened to us. The appointment was railroaded through without any ackowledgement of our concerns. Tonight we forced them to listen to us and we hope they will take notice. "
Notes for Editors:
LSE students’ petition against Sutherland’s appointment: http://www.petitiononline.com/lsesuth/petition.html
Article featuring controversy of Sutherland’s appointment: http://www.london-student.net/content/view/330/29/
[Pictures attached] Free to use but accredit to Ali Moussavi
Aled Fisher: 07817 588923
James Caspell: 07941 154912