LSE students call for university to remove anti-homeless benches on campus
The benches are designed to reduce ‘anti-social behaviour’
Students at the London School of Economics have called for their university to remove anti-homeless benches on campus.
The benches, designed to stop people sleeping on them, have recently been refurbished to stop rough sleepers from sheltering there at night. LSE said the benches were installed to reduce "threats and anti-social behaviour".
LSE students have now started an online petition calling for the benches to be removed, calling out the uni's mission statement of working towards the "betterment of society".
In the petition, the students claim they "reject whole-heartedly the prioritisation of aesthetics over the shelter of the most vulnerable in our society".
They go on to say: "As a university which claims to care about alleviating inequality and addressing social and economic challenges, it is outrageous that LSE would install these benches designed to exclude vulnerable populations."
Hey @LSEnews, why did you change the benches outside the library to these? Rough sleepers used to use the benches at night because it’s one of the only sheltered places around, now they can’t. pic.twitter.com/h8l0DDzAqE
— Cara Leavey (@caraleavey) August 4, 2018
The students have called for the university to remove the benches and "take action to support local rough sleepers". The petition, started by Elif Sarican, has so far been signed by 800 students.
A spokesperson from the university said: "The safety of our staff and students is paramount. We received a number of reports from LSE staff and students who were threatened and abused by members of the public gathering on the benches outside the library. This is in addition to extreme anti-social behaviour in the area.
"The risk posed to the LSE community had become unacceptable and changes were made to attempt to reduce the incidence of further threats and anti-social behaviour."
They went on to say, "We will review these measures to determine whether they are appropriate."
Earlier this year, homeless benches were installed in Bournemouth, which led to rapper Professor Green labelling them "inhumane" and filming himself ripping out the bars. The benches have since been removed.