University reacts to sit-in

4 February 1969

This week’s Guild Gazette leads with this report on the 24-hour sit-in at the Social Science building in solidarity with students at the LSE. The sit-in was the first protest of this kind at Liverpool University.

Pro Vice-Chancellor White, speaking on behalf of the University, yesterday said, “The University neither condemns or supports the sit-in in the Social Sciences building last week.  The sit-in did not disturb the running of the University in any way. We feel that minorities should have the right to conduct such demonstrations provided they remain peaceful and do not hinder the normal running of the University in any way.”

The Pro Vice-Chancellor went on to add that the University did not know enough about the situation at LSE to dissociate itself from the action of the authorities there, as the protesters had demanded. We would have to have information direct from the London School of Economics before we could make such a decision.

He also pointed out that there was no question of the University taking disciplinary action on those sitting in. “The only way in which such an act would be taken was if by sitting there students work suffered. But even if this did happen then the matter would be one between the individual student and his department,” he said.

Students gathered at the Social Science building last week where the sit-in was taking place. The sitters-in refused to let the Gazette photographer take photographs inside the building for fear of disciplinary action.

The events of the sit-in were that last Wednesday, at 10.30 am, a group of about 40 students marched from the Union to the Social Studies building where, were later joined by a further thirty or so, spent 24 hours sitting in the foyer.

The protest, the first of its kind at Liverpool, was aimed at support of the students at LSE. Despite reports in the local press to the contrary, the sit-in was totally unconnected with the Politics department and with the resignation of the student side of the staff-student committee of that department the previous day.

”It was decided as the sit-in was not representative of students at Liverpool University it had no power to make demands for greater student participation in the running of the University,” said one of the protesters.

The attitude of the porters and campus police throughout these events was one of interest rather than anger. ”They seem to regard staying in the foyer here as much more comfortable than walking round the campus in the cold”, said a demonstrator after talking to the campus policemen there.

Panto committee,  however, adopted a much more hostile attitude. They attempted to poke fun at the demonstrators by organising a tour to the Social Studies building but after the first group arrived one student had to be restrained by a porter and the president ot Politics Society from running a fire hose on the demonstrators.

Panto Publicity Secretary John Cleugh pointed out: “‘This action may have a serious effect on public opinion as far as Panto is concerned.” A similar opinion was expressed by the committee of Biological Society as well as by several students asked for their opinions by a Gazette reporter.

Some of the 75 students who picketed Toxteth Docks last week try to give a leaflet to the driver of a lorry leaving the docks. The students were protesting at the shipment of arms from Liverpool to Federal Nigeria for use in the war against Biafra. Though most of the dockers accepted the leaflets, some of them pointed out that this work was their living and they could not refuse the three times their normal wage rates they got for handling arms.

Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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