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1969: Rebel students take over LSE

Students protesting against the closure of the London School of Economics have seized control of another university building.

The rebels have taken over the University of London Union building, in Malet Street in central London, saying they want to establish an LSE in exile until their own college is reopened.

Three days ago, students went on the rampage at the LSE, in the Aldwych, with pickaxes, crowbars and sledgehammers, smashing several sets of steel gates which had only just been installed.

LSE Director Walter Adams, who ordered the gates to improve security, closed the school and has announced it will remain shut until he is satisfied order can be maintained.

The students, who claimed the gates made the college feel like a concentration camp, say they now need a new base from which to continue their studies.


"They closed LSE, we would like to open it"

Rebel student

They have barred the entrances to the union building and stuck posters on the doors and walls, with slogans like "Occupied for Student Action" and "LSE in exile".

One student, who refused to be identified by the cameras, said: "It is very difficult to say how long we are going to be here. We need a base from which to work and this is why this base was taken in the first place."

He said so far only sociology lectures had been held in the ULU.

Another rebel student blamed Dr Adams and the governors for closing the school: "They hold the power, not the revolutionary students of LSE. They closed LSE, we would like to open it."

He accused Dr Adams of trying to restrict their academic freedom by putting up the security gates.

However, it is clear the LSE rebels do not command total support among the student community.

Another group of students tried to get into the union building but found their entrance barred.

Their spokesman said: "We feel something should be done to tell people they do not represent us. We do not want our grants stopped. The vast majority of us want to pass our exams."

In Context
The LSE in exile was brought to an end one day later. Scores of medical students and others who opposed the occupation helped the union authorities remove the militants.

LSE director, Dr Walter Adams, confirmed re-erecting the gates was not a precondition to reopening the school - but he would not set a date.

In fact, the LSE remained closed for more than three weeks. It brought legal action against 13 people, including three staff, said to be ringleaders in the initial riot.

Two of the three staff were subsequently sacked. A number of the students faced further disciplinary action for disrupting lectures.

Student unrest in the late 1960s was widespread not just in Britain, but also in the United States and some European countries.


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