Beaver

Student Petition to Remove Benches Hits 47k Signatures

Over the past week, the petition started by a group of LSE students to remove “anti-homeless” benches from outside the Library plaza cafe has received a further 47,000 signatures.

Its organisers told The Beaver: “We’re delighted to see the mass of support from across the globe, and really hopeful that it will make LSE rethink not only their decision on the library benches, but on their conduct and attitude towards homeless people more broadly.” LSE declined to comment on the petition.

The Evening Standard, the Independent and the Tab covered the growing dissidence from LSE students towards the new benches, and Masters student Cara Leavey was interviewed on the matter by BBC Radio London’s Vanessa Feltz last Thursday.

According to an LSE spokesperson, the review “will be completed Michaelmas term” and will be chaired by Julian Robinson, the Director of Estates. It will also include academic and professional services staff, representatives from homeless agencies, and of particular note, representatives from the LSE student body.

“The review will consider a range of issues. These include the decision to replace the John Watkins Plaza benches, how campus architecture on campus can encourage both safety and openness, how LSE engages with, and contributes to, the local community and the safety and security of all on campus. The review will lead to a final report with recommendations.”

The Beaver is still waiting for an answer to several queries made about ground floor toilets that had been locked for over a month, as well as the costs of installing the new benches and details of the review process. An LSE spokesperson told The Beaver that regarding the review, “the terms of reference are being finalised”. Despite frequent questioning, LSE have neglected to explain the rationale behind how the new benches are expected to prevent anti-social behaviour.

The Beaver is investigating allegations made that the space behind the Library plaza cafe, used by some to store belongings by some homeless people, has been locked by LSE Security in the past year.

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