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Librarian dismissed for allowing ‘Harlem Shake’ in Oxford college library

Students at an Oxford college are calling for a librarian, who they say was sacked after the filming of a Harlem Shake video, to be reinstated.

It’s reported that around 30 students were filmed “doing the Harlem Shake” shortly before midnight in St Hilda’s College library. The video was posted to the internet and reportedly had more than 5,000 views on YouTube before it was removed on Monday.

St Hilda’s Junior Common Room (JCR) have passed a motion demanding the librarian be reinstated. JCR president Esther Gosling told the BBC that the librarian had been sacked and up to five students fined between £30 and £60 after the video was posted online in February. Ms Gosling insisted the librarian was not involved in organising the stunt and “couldn’t have stopped it”. She said: “We don’t want to undermine the college authorities or decisions they make, but in this case we think their reaction is excessive and the dismissal is unfair”. The students are also calling for the fines to be rescinded as they shot the video late on a Sunday night as not to disturb anyone studying. According to one student representative, the whole event was over in seven minutes.

The college has made no comment.

On the one hand, it’s clear that the college has a reputation to uphold and 5,000 plus views on YouTube of a video showing students behaving as they shouldn’t in a college library could have significant negative implications for a university.

On the other hand, the internet craze has prompted various groups – including a squadron of the Norwegian Army and Manchester City football players – to post videos of themselves doing the Harlem Shake. Even if the librarian could have stopped the filming in St Hilda’s College, it’s questionable whether her failure to do so would amount to misconduct sufficient to merit dismissal.

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