To give or not to give (a speech) – how much is that question?

No, not the King’s one, but the one given at the London School of Economics (LSE). LSE has a reputation of being one of the UK’s top universities but its reputation two weeks ago hit rock-bottom. The world famous institution sparked outrage when it became common knowledge that a speaker had been closely linked to a £300,000 donation to the university. Strangely, it was not so much the price as the person who caused controversy.

The reason

Libya is the main talking point in the world news at the moment but it was last May when the leader’s son, Saif Gaddafi, gave a speech at the university, where he had previously been a student. There is a double irony here: not only was his talk under The Ralph Miliband lecture programme, which promotes freedom of speech, but there have also been accusations that Saif paid others to write his thesis while he was a PhD student there. What was originally a controversial choice has since led to condemnation and criticism of the university, not only for accepting his money but also for the obvious contradiction in choosing him as a speaker.

Who was Ralph Miliband?

Ralph Miliband was the father of the Labour party’s current leader, Ed Miliband. He escaped the Nazis in Germany in the 1940s and came to the UK because he was a socialist. His eldest son is furious about the situation, and expressed how horrified he is that the speech was given under his father’s name.

The result

The aftermath of the storm has seen the director of LSE resign, and an inquiry into whether academic independence there has been compromised. Predictably, this story only came to light because of Libya’s current predicament. Would this situation even be an issue if it wasn’t for this? It would be interesting to see what other disputed “donations” to universities would conflict with today’s morals, which without the media involved have remained hidden so far. Now that’s the real question to be answered, especially given this week’s new revelations that LSE is not the only institution to have connections with the Libyan elite.

Negative Vocabulary

To hit rock-bottom
to reach the lowest possible level or be in the worst possible situation
A powerful feeling of anger about something
Spark outrage
To cause that feeling
A public disagreement with opposite opinions
The adjective from ‘contorversy’
A strong disapproval of something
To talk about the mistakes or faults about something
The expression that one thing is the opposite to something else
Very angry
To feel unpleasantly shocked
A result or consequence, especially after a bad situation
A storm
A bad situation or crisis, in political, social or domestic affairs
Request for information
To show the possibility that something is no longer safe or honest and consequently a source of danger or disagreement
To come to light
To become known or to be discovered
A difficult situation to get out of
Subject to disagreement and debate
A state of disharmony or war between people, ideas or interests

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