On Monday 12th February, Ayo Olatunji, a pro-Palestine activist from UCL was denied entry to KCL during a protest against a visit from the former Israeli deputy prime minister, Dan Meridor.
Ayo, who is also UCL’s Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer, arrived at the peaceful protest held by the KCL Action Palestine Society (KCLAP) bringing megaphones for the demo.
After using his UCL card and being denied entry, he attempted to sign in as a guest but once again was not allowed to enter under the pretences that he did not have a KCL badge.
The security guards said this was because Ayo was not a KCL student, even though in the visitor sheet it states that external people are allowed in.
Another KCL student, also a member of KCLAP, was prevented from returning to the protest because she was carrying Ayo’s megaphones.
In 2010 Mr Meridor was advised not to come to the UK as he could have been prosecuted under UK criminal law
Security told her to either leave the megaphones with them at the entrance or leave the building. When asked to provide proof against the use of megaphones, a member of the security team provided what Ayo described as a questionable piece of evidence. According to the student in question, this paper, which was presented as KCL policy, did not have any stamp or proof to be a legal document.
A KCL spokesperson told LS that megaphones are not allowed on campus for health and safety reasons.
Head of Security at @KingsCollegeLon stops me from entering a KCL building calling me a trespasser despite being a uni of London member and allowing people from other unis and not in uni into the building – the reason? Being black and wanting to protest Israeli apartheid pic.twitter.com/SJ3IxxOm7D
— Ayo Kalil (@AyoOlatunji96) February 12, 2018
Mr Meridor was invited on campus by the KCL Israel Society and co-hosted alongside the recently established City University of London Israel Society to discuss the threats and challenges to Israel.
In 2010 Mr Meridor was advised not to come to the UK as he could have been prosecuted under UK criminal law for his involvement in the raid against the Turkish ship ‘Mavi Marmara’, which resulted in the death of 9 Turkish activists and in the injuring of several others.
KCL Action Palestine Society’s initial plan was to attend the talk and engage in a critical debate with Mr Meridor, but due to restrictions on tickets, members of the Palestine Society were not admitted inside.
For Ayo this is the second time that such discriminatory behaviour has happened to him. He told London Student that “BAME students are more constricted” in expressing dissent, especially in regards to events held by Israeli societies on campus.
A member of KCLAP told LS: “We’d like to condemn the action of the SOAS Jewish Society president for attacking a protester and ripping up her placard, completely unprovoked and we’d also like to condemn KCL security for standing by… and only pursuing [the issue] after a sabbatical officer asked” them to intervene.
Regarding the incident, a King’s College London spokesperson told London Student:
“A small number of people were turned away from an event held by a King’s student society on Monday evening, either having arrived without tickets, or after the event had started and doors were closed. This included a member of the UCL Student Union staff who tried to access the event without a valid ticket – all non-King’s attendees were required to have a ticket and a valid photo ID – and on being turned away this individual was very aggressive towards our security staff.
“Universities have a unique challenge to create environments in which open and uncensored debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance can take place without fear of intimidation and within the framework of the law.”