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Students push to reinstate librarian fired over 'Harlem Shake'

March 20, 2013 at 3:11 PM ET

Oxford University students and a British member of Parliament are pushing for the reinstatement of a librarian they claim has been unfairly dismissed from her job after students filmed themselves in a “Harlem Shake’’ video in the library on her watch.

Calypso Nash, a post-graduate classics student who worked part-time as a librarian at St. Hilda’s College, did not participate in the video but was working in the library on Feb. 17 when the clip was filmed at 11:30 p.m. The approximately 30 students involved in the 30-second video, which took about seven minutes to film, were fined for causing an unnecessary disturbance by the dean of St. Hilda’s, which is a constituent college of Oxford, according to The Associated Press.

One of the organizers of the video, St. Hilda's undergraduate student Alexander Fisken, 22, told The Guardian that he and his fellow students were informed that Nash had lost her job before they met with the dean. St. Hilda’s Junior Common Room, a group that represents the school's undergraduate students, has passed a motion calling for Nash’s reinstatement by appealing to the head librarian and the dean. St. Hilda’s and Oxford University declined comment to TODAY.com.

“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 claimed in the motion.

“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,’’ Fisken wrote in an editorial in The Guardian. “I really couldn't believe that such a decision had been taken as it seemed so unjust. I tried to bring Calypso's dismissal up in our meeting with the dean (in which we were informed that we would be facing a fine) but I was told that this matter was not up for discussion.

“In my opinion, an event that had brought students at St Hilda's together and was in the spirit of the St Hilda's community had turned sour and resulted in an innocent and able person losing a job that she loved.”

The push to get Nash her job back has gotten the attention of a member of Parliament, George Galloway, who has publicly supported efforts to reinstate Nash. Galloway put forward (or tabled, in British Parliamentary terms) a motion on Wednesday to help Nash recover her position, stating that “the College authorities seem to have suffered from a severe sense of humor loss” and that Nash bears “no responsibility’’ for the video. The motion also “urges the College authorities to think again (and) see the funny side of this.”

“The response to the story has been overwhelming and was never expected,’’ JCR President Esther Gosling told Cherwell, Oxford's student newspaper. “The support for our quest for the reinstatement of the librarian is very much appreciated. We hope the matter will be resolved soon.’’

Fisken, 22, also expressed that Nash should get her job back. Like the numerous "Harlem Shake'' videos online, the clip starts out depicting a tranquil scene with one student dancing in a wacky outfit before turning into a large group of students dancing in everything from a fake horse's head to a dog outfit.

The controversy is the latest involving a "Harlem Shake'' video, as members of a college Ultimate frisbee team from Colorado were investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this month for filming one on a plane.

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