In September 2015, the Imperial College student accommodation halls in Evelyn Gardens will close. The Evelyn Gardens halls were affordable student accommodation within twenty minutes walking distance from Imperial College. Needless to day they were really popular among students.
The decision to shut the halls was officially announced at the beginning of 2014 although rumours about this closure date from 2011. It was negatively perceived by the students and the Students Union Reps expressed their opposition to the leaders. But this was not enough, and it was too late.
To succeed in lobbying the “leaders” against this closure, a mass student mobilisation would have been needed before the College decision was made and the contracts signed. If 50 % of the College students had protested, there would have been 7000 students blocking the way to a normal functioning of the College which might have led to negotiations of some sort.
But we were far from that. Why? Firstly, 600 students lived in these halls in their first year. If there are four generations of students studying at Imperial, that’s equivalent to 2400 students concerned with the halls closure. Among these 2400 students, half of them were in their third or fourth year. They probably didn’t feel affected by this decision as they were nearly done.
This leaves us with 1200 students who might have really been willing to protest. How many were busy studying, meeting their endless deadlines? And if they weren’t studying, how many used their precious time to relax, socialise, do sports, hobbies ect? When you’re paying massive tuition fees and your main priority is not to fail the exams while having a good time, there isn’t much time to protest or organise a protest.
This is reminiscent of Imperial College’s lack of student involvement in protesting against the rise of student fees back in 2010 for the same reasons stated above.
We shouldn’t just blame IC university students for that. This behaviour is very much representative of the society we currently live in, controlled by politicians with people too busy with their working life (Party life in countries with no work.)
1969 days seem so far behind. Shouldn’t we be more concerned that we are not bothering anymore with protests for a better world? Patti Smith (ironically 68 years of age) is concerned, as shows her wake up calls in 2015’s Glastonbury. People have the power, she shouts, enraged. We just have to remind ourselves how to use it.