An LCC Student on the campaign against cuts

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A student from the London College of Communications. For updates on their campaign check out lccoppose.wordpress.com

Just like those obnoxious insurance ads all over town, I am trying to find a way of making the story of Oppose LCC Course Redundancies entertaining, but I can’t. So, instead, I will try to make it simple.

Oppose started when a small group of students at the London College of Communication (one out of the six colleges that form the University of the Arts London) found out through the grapevine late last year, that their courses were about to be closed for good.

We were five –  and I suppose that was enough.

It primarily consisted of a Facebook group (epitome of the reality of today’s student activism), then grew into a blog and a Twitter page and a few more people that were willing to help.

The premise was simple – to have a student group showing their disagreement with the so-called “Efficiency Program” issued that May by UAL’s rector, Nigel Carrington and LCC’s head of college, Sandra Kemp.

We never thought things would be so intricate. In our naivety we thought that a few meetings with management and our student union would be enough to at least change the premises under which the changes were about to occur and give teachers and students some time to find an alternative place t work/ study.

Instead, like in many other institutions, senior management greeted us with nothing but contempt and conspicuous condescendence. Oh, they met with us, but instead of listening they sat down in front of us, allegedly heard what we said and left to never come back to us with a reply to our comments. It was like talking to a wall.

The student union was another disappointment. Numbed by apathy or contentment, by the university’s management enticing financial support and by the fear of the possible repercussions of disclosed political action, they quickly made clear that they were far from sharing our views and our stances. We didn’t fold.

From protest during graduation day to occupations on which we were escorted out by the police, the movement grew in popularity and support (we have over 1150 members on Facebook, 177 followers on Twitter and many, many more supporters through the college, the university, the unions and scattered around the country’s higher education establishments).

In a way, senior management gave us (through their sheer authoritarianism and lack of common sense) the unity and impetus that had been absent at LCC for so long. It caught the attention and the sympathy of many students that had never been involved with either social or political movements. It gave many more the renewed hope that united we could stand tall, much taller than the self appointed system.

Yet, the fight is far from over. The 16 courses we are trying to save are still bound to close. 63 salaried posts and over 200 part-time hourly-paid Associate Lecturer jobs are to be cut. The college will be at least 700 students lighter.

We were called instigators, alarmists, trouble-makers. As far as I am concerned they could call me all they want because I will stand where I stood when I started, long before these people with careers so far devoid of academic experience stepped in with their large cars and larger cuts. And that is next to my course, my teachers and to my university, to which, contrary to what they say and contrary to themselves, I hold in high esteem and deference.

Joana Oliveira Pinto

17th December 2009

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