Furious Oxford University students have called for a librarian to be reinstated after she was sacked for allowing students to make a Harlem Shake video while she was on duty.
Although the librarian, Ms. Calypso Nash — who is also a classics student at St. Hilda’s College — was not involved in making the 30 second YouTube video, she was sacked.
In the video, around 30 Oxford University students performed their own take on the familiar “Harlem Shake” dance meme as they danced in fancy dress on the library’s tables and chairs. One participant dressed as a Pussy Riot member, while others wore a football helmet, badger’s costume and horse’s head.
According to Esther Gosling, president of the junior common room (JCR), the video was shot late on February 17, a Sunday night, in order to minimize the disruption to other students. The entire video took just seven minutes to film.
All the students who had been identified in the video have been fined a basic amount by the University Dean, believed to be around $75.50 (£50).
Ellen Gibson, a student at St. Hilda’s College, and one of those protesting Ms. Nash’s sacking said: “The situation seems ridiculous. The librarian had nothing to do with the protest; she just happened to be there at the time.”
As a result, the JCR passed the motion that the decision to fire Ms Nash was “hugely unjust” and released a statement saying:
“It is difficult to see what she could have done to prevent around 30 legitimate St. Hilda’s students from entering the library.”
The JCR President has now appealed on behalf of the common room to both the library and the governing body. If those appeals fail, the students have vowed to present the issue to the library committee next term.
In addition, JCR President Ms. Gosling has asked the Dean of Oxford University to overturn the “excessive” fines levied on the participating students, adding that the JCR was not trying to “undermine the college.”
In a classic example of university inter-college warfare, St. Catherine’s College, performed their own version of the Harlem Shake — the “Catz Harlem Shake” —which has already earned over 70,000 views on YouTube and no resulting disciplinary action.
On the contrary, a spokeswoman for St. Catherine’s College said:
“The Master, Professor Roger Ainsworth, says that he is very proud of the Catz students and their inspiration, motivation, organisation and creativity. He believes it to be the best example of the genre, at least in the UK.”
“Harlem Shake,” a song written and produced by DJ Baauer along with samples, triggered an Internet dance craze following its uploading in February 2013 to YouTube. It entered Billboard’s Hot 100 at number 1 two weeks ago prompting the music aggregator to add a US only YouTube video streaming data chart.
It has vaulted to pop culture dominance following copycat videos by groups as disparate as the English National Ballet, Jamie Oliver, The Simpsons, indie duo Matt and Kim, the Norwegian army, Georgia University’s men’s swim and dive team, passengers on a plane, Australian mine workers, and Saturday Night Live.
As yet, Hilda’s College and Oxford University have not commented on Ms. Nash’s sacking.