Published on January 28, 2014 | by Alana Maytum


One-man protest at Starbucks lecture

Peter Smith, displaying letter protesting against the Starbucks lecture at UAL

Smith argues that it is “morally corrupt” for UAL to host this lecture [Bethe Dabbs]

Students and the public arriving for a guest lecture at LCC by Simon Redfern, the Director of Corporate Affairs at Starbucks UK were greeted by a one-man protest.

Peter Smith, a BA Design for Interaction and Moving Image student at LCC, was opposing college’s decision to book a guest speaker from a company that he says avoids paying corporate taxes.

Smith says: “Starbucks not paying their tax results in our tuition fees going up. For UAL to host this lecture is morally corrupt. I want to ask the question why they feel that this is an appropriate response.”

He added, “I don’t want to judge the students attending, I just want to inform them so they can see both sides of the debate.”

Strong response

Despite a strong response from more than 40 UAL students on the Protesting Starbucks talk at UAL Facebook page, Smith was the only person to attend the protest, but did not attend the lecture itself.

A second year BA Public Relations student who attended the lecture commented on the matter: “We think it’s a valuable learning experience for the students. We are happy that UAL have invited someone so successful. We are happy to hear both sides of the story, but we are interested in how [Redfern] got to where he is today and want to hear about his career up until this point.”

Mostafa Rajaai, the culture and diversity officer from SUARTS, said: “I think it is great that students are taking the initiative to protest. As an educational institution, UAL should employ a no-platform policy, not provide a platform for wrong ideologies. They should hire PRs to give lectures from companies that demonstrate moral and ethical practices.”

Peter Smith (centre) talking to Mostafa Rajaai head of Culture and Diversity from UAL student union.

Smith stood alone to voice his views against Starbucks [Bethe Dabbs]

Natalie Brett, LCC head of college and pro-vice chancellor, defended UAL’s choice : “We know that our students value this interaction as something which enriches their learning experience. Simon Redfern’s lecture is part of a series of public relations guest lectures for our students, organised by the BA and MA Public Relations staff in response to student feedback.”

She continued: “While we recognise that the debate is at the heart of education and knowledge sharing, and would welcome anyone wishing to discuss what Simon has to say, we request that this is done in a way that respects others’ right to learn, particularly those that this event has been organised for.”




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