In a typical display of extravagancy by the bosses at King’s College London, the Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge were invited to the university last week to formally open their new space at Bush House, on the Strand.
As well as a tour of the departments, KCL management organised a display of various research projects for the Royal Family including ‘a tentacle like robot for endoscopic surgery.’ The Queen (herself an expert in invasive parasitism) briefly admired the equipment before being used as a prop for KCL’s advertisement photographs. In a manner truly befitting the aristocracy, however, this visit was also accompanied by a series of reactionary measures of repression against left-wing students on campus.
On the day of the monarch’s arrival, at least 10 people studying at the university had their student cards temporarily deactivated, meaning that they were unable to enter any university buildings, including the libraries and cafes. Several students were prevented from attending lectures and even from sitting exams.
The only thing these students had in common was that they have recently been active in left-wing campaigns on campus, including the fight for a decent wage for cleaning staff and had recently organised a stunt to expose KCL’s ties to military research institutions in Israel.
When the students asked campus security for a justification, it was revealed that KCL had collaborated with the Metropolitan Police to make a list of students who were potential ‘security risks.’ These students were then barred from any and all university premises until the Queen had left, including university exam halls several miles from the main campuses.
Attempts by KCL management to justify this targeted restriction in the interests of ‘security’ have already been shown to be absurd. In the days after the incident, an article written by a university worker in the student newspaper claimed that much of the security staff for the visit was not vetted or subject to any checks whatsoever.
The anonymous worker was close enough to see Kate Middleton’s ‘grimace-y smile’ and overhear conversations with the Queen, yet was not interviewed or assessed at all before being given the job. Overall, it is clear that KCL did not work with the ‘highest level of security’ as it claimed in its justification for the incident. Rather, KCL management carried out the attack on the 10 students (overwhelmingly students of colour) as an intentional move to single out the more vocal, left-wing members of the student body, in fear that they would dare express their dissatisfaction in front of the Royal Family and, more importantly, the leagues of bourgeois journalists that come with them. The bosses’ cynical appeal to ‘security’ seemingly referred more to their own wallets and reputation than to the safety of the royals.
As Marxists, we must absolutely reject these targeted attacks on left-wing students on campus. KCL Marxist Society has already made a statement of solidarity and will continue to be active in the fight against management’s war on freedom of protest. If university bosses feel able to isolate and restrict the movements of radical students, it will not be long before these interventions escalate. KCL bosses are more than happy to lick the boots of the Royal Family while they undermine the studies of any students who dare voice opposition to these oppressors. In response, students must organise with workers on campus to defend their freedom to protest from their joint enemy; the cynical greed of university bosses and the marketisation of education. But it is not enough to fight against these tyrannical bureaucrats or the parasites in the aristocracy, we must also fight to destroy the system that defends them and that perpetuates their exploitative existence: Capitalism.
Oliver Brotherton, KCL Marxist Society