I’ve been at the LSE for a year and a half, I study Anthropology, and the Beaver team have made the error of asking me to write a weekly column. They are clearly desperate. This week I will be writing about doors.
We don’t really talk about doors at the LSE but, for absolutely no reason at all, humour me and consider the utter uselessness of almost all entrances and exits at our university.
The enormous wood and glass doors of the SU lethargically open, refusing to be pushed to an acceptable speed. For some reason there are two of them, perhaps designed as an airlock to keep the polluting fake-happiness of those internship people outside, with their gazebos and free sweets, from disturbing the dissatisfied balance of students within. Admittedly, the doors do actually suit the building they front. The SU has a ‘slow’ atmosphere – its dark red-brick walls, floors, and ceilings promoting a strange wooziness. I imagine, if I were very small (which I’m not), a chimney would feel much the way the SU does. It’s a place where the Mole-Man of Hackney would feel at home. Even the SU bar, a holy place for any campus, cannot escape the curse of the door – the weight of that one to The Tuns serving only as an encouragement to purchase more alcohol, lest we be faced with the task of wrestling it open.
The library too! One nicely automated ‘swinger’, which seems to open at random, and a bunch of weird heavy ones which must be set to a timer designed to cause maximum disruption. Maybe I’m just shit at opening doors, but it does appear that there’s a concerted effort to trap us in buildings, or at least to prevent us from leaving easily.
Kingsway is more like a funnel than a door, I’m pretty sure Parish is a very large puzzle rather than a building, and the NAB’s entrances are sealed with enormous military-style steel barriers each day. As for 32 Lincoln’s Inn, every single door which its original architect planned as an entrance is locked, while the LSE have sawn an enormous hole in one wall and covered it with a glass box. If I’m ever in 32L when there is a fire, I will just resign myself to death. There is no escape from that place in a hurry – especially as nobody knows which floor is which anyway.
Most of us have experienced the metaphorical ‘doors’ in our lives opening for us (I am aware I sound like a nob). We are privileged and we should accept that. The automated doors across campus would be a great metaphor for the privilege we enjoy if they worked, but instead we get a flappy mess of glass welcoming us to every building. As a result, our very campus seems inept – battling against those who visit it, just as the LSE seems to battle against their student population and workers at any opportunity they get.
In 1969 security gates were installed across campus. In response, a very large group of students got together, pickaxes and sledgehammers in hand, and smashed them apart. They broke through seven sets of steel gates before the police arrested 25 of them. Where is our anger? Why can we not unite and drag the doors off all buildings in LSE? I’d love to see what is kept behind the steel walls of the NAB (my suspicion is that it’s a secret night-school for dictators to send their children to). Why stop with the LSE? Parliament has some very annoying doors I’d love to get my hands on, and we have a history of smashing up Somerset House, so we may as well give theirs a go while we’re at it.
This column is unlikely to start a revolution – it’s unlikely to do anything given barely anybody will read it. But spare a thought for the saddest reflection on this issue; that is the placement, in the library, of the bust of Lionel Robbins. Immortalised as staring at the constant and confusing mess of students battling with barriers to entry, it is perhaps the perfect representation of his muddled and changeable economic theories and career.