Esher College student suspended after Millbank Protests

Profile image for stlawrence2

By stlawrence2 | Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 14:07

Esher College student Olivia Wedderburn has been suspended after she admitted climbing on to the roof of Millbank Tower during the student protests in London on Wednesday November 10th. About 50,000 students travelled to London in order to take part in a peaceful demonstration against the dramatic rise in tuition fees due to take place from 2012. 

It is obvious that there were a number of individuals whose main aim was to cause trouble and incite violence, and that is exactly what happened. Kingston Students Union, as reported in Kingstonpeople, have condemned the violence which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

According to the Mail on Sunday, 18 year old Olivia Wedderburn lives in her parents’  £1.8 million townhouse in one of Kingston’s most presigious streets. That detail is meant to be ironic, I suppose, the assumption being that her parents can probably afford the tuition fees so why should she be protesting at all. Does that mean we shouldn't protest unless an issue directly affects us? Presumably, Ms Wedderburn’s motives are entirely altruistic then, and we can’t condemn her for that. According to the Elmbridge Guardian, she only entered the building because the crowd behind her pushed her inside. Perhaps she is an unfortunate victim of circumstance - in the wrong place at the wrong time. Interestingly, Esher College have suspended her because she took the day off without permission, rather than because of her involvement in the violence. This was the comment made by Principal Dan Dean in a press release on the matter. 


 "The student concerned absented herself from College without permission. As such we will be dealing with the issue as an internal disciplinary matter. The College does not condone any behaviour which breaks the law and trusts that the police will deal with any legal action." 

  I went to Esher College too, back in the late 1980s, and I can’t remember anyone getting suspended for ‘bunking off’. Times have certainly changed but one thing is certain, it seems to me that students are beginning to act like students again. I’m not condoning the violence of course. I just mean it is refreshing to see young people peacefully protesting against something that is going to mean that only students from wealthier backgrounds will be able to afford to go to University. That has to be worth protesting about. 

 If you have something to add then please do so. Perhaps you believe Olivia Wedderburn should be permanently excluded from the college, or maybe you believe she is just a victim of circumstance. Have your say here.




  • Profile image for Sam_hilton

    She probably is a 'fair weather protester' as you say, who was silly enough not to see that what she and many others were doing was wrong. I agree with you about the tuition fees issue, which really is the big issue isn't it? When I was at University we didn't have to pay tuition fees and students from poorer backgrounds got full grants. I had a very small grant that went towards my accommodation and 'beer money' and I left with a smallish overdraft which I cleared within a year. I'm sorry for the next generation who are going to be burdened with huge debts, poor job prospects and who won't be able to leave home because they can't afford to get on the housing ladder.

    By Sam_hilton at 12:12 on 19/11/10

  • Profile image for MIKENEWS

    If she was just “an unfortunate victim of circumstance” and got carried into the building, and then presumably up on to the roof as well, why did she then admit the act which then led to her suspension? It does seem to add to the view that she is just another fair-weather protestor who was the whole thing as a bit of a laugh. If she felt she wasn’t in the wrong she should have stood up to the college and not taken what she would have seen as an unjust punishment for the sake of a quiet life. Within the arguments around student fees, I feel it would be good if their could be a debate in future (not now as the economic climate would make it impossible) around a more tailored approach to fees with more grants available for students from poorer background who show the ability to be able to study at the very best unis. Those who can afford it and want it – whether it is education or anything else – will and should pay for it. Whether it is money well spent is another discussion entirely!

    By MIKENEWS at 18:53 on 18/11/10

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