Students at King’s College London staged two “read-ins” in a cafeteria last month in protest at regulations which bar students from reading, writing or using laptops while eating their lunch.
A few dozen students participated in the protests which took place at the Chapters cafeteria on the Strand Campus at lunchtime on 15 and 17 January, flouting the rules either by quietly sitting at the tables studying, leafleting other students about the read-in, or carrying out a survey about what people think of the rules.
During the read-in the security guards seemed confused and carefully studied the leaflets being given out. While not asking us to stop or to leave the cafeteria, they did have a prolonged argument with the student who had organised the protest, who is far from being a leftist radical.
However, it came as no surprise that the huge majority of students asked for their opinions thought that it was ridiculous that the cafe (in a university of all places) forbids reading between the hours of noon and 2:30pm. Not being allowed to read while sitting in the cafeteria is not analogous to the ban on eating in the library – study space for students at the Strand Campus is very limited.
The situation at King’s College London is just another case of the mad logic of privatisation and marketisation of education and the opening up of campus services for profit-making. Unfortunately, it seems that the student union is unwilling to do anything to kick up a fuss.