As the "Harlem Shake" dance continues to sweep the internet, it wasn’t all that surprising or extraordinary when a group of 30 Oxford University students decided take their own spin on the phenomenon in their school’s library — fancy dresses and “Free Pussy Riot” signs included. What was, however, extraordinary and frankly, uncalled for, was the prestigious university’s senior staff’s response. All identified students involved had been fined by the dean and the librarian who was working when the video was made, Calypso Nash, had been sacked for allowing the students to do the "Harlem Shake."
Now, students of the university are looking into Nash’s dismissal, and are calling for her reinstatement. Their reasoning is simple and true — Nash wasn’t participating in the dance or the video, she just had been the one to be working when the video was taken. Second, even if she had been involved in the video, to fire someone, who, according to the students was a great librarian and genuinely loved what she did over something so trivial is unfair and is a gross overreaction.
The student who organized the dance and video, Alexander Fisken, along with his girlfriend Anna and housemate, Anders, had no idea that this small and insignificant joke would be blown so severely out of proportion.
“Despite what the video may convey, a term at Oxford University can be quite stressful, so it was lovely to do something completely different … There was always the nagging doubt that the college would not appreciate such a stunt. However we were confident that, were we to be called up on the matter, the college would appreciate the harmless and friendly spirit in which the video was intended,” he wrote.
Because of this, they were a little worried when they had first been summoned to the dean. But their worries increased exponentially when they found out Nash, who had nothing to do with the video, had also been summoned.
When they found out that their actions had led to her sacking, he says, “For the first time, we felt awful about what we had done … Calypso had absolutely nothing to do with our stunt, it just so happened that her shift coincided with the time that we judged to be the library's least busy.
The University’s Junior Common Room, which represents the college’s undergraduate body, passed a motion demanding that Nash be reinstated as librarian. According to JCR president, Esther Gosling, the video was filmed shortly before midnight and not only was the librarian not involved, it is likely that she “couldn't have stopped it.”
"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," she said.
The "Harlem Shake" has somehow stuck around for much longer than most of had hoped it would, but regardless of how much you may dislike the craze, it is safe to say that fining students and firing a librarian for having a little fun is unnecessary and humorless, and the university should right its wrongs by reinstating Nash as librarian.