More to follow Hall sit-in

18 March 1969

There is a possibility of further direct action by the students at the Carnatic Halls. At the moment they are waiting for the backing from the Presidents of the other Halls, who have yet to consult their fellow students. It is expected that the other Halls will also press for the abolition of visiting hours, and for equal staff-student representation on the Hall committees.

The action of students in Salisbury and McNair Halls, to obtain the abolition of restricted visiting hours and greater student representation on Hall committees, came to a head on Monday, 10th March, with a sit-in of 200 students, in the foyer of Salisbury Hall.

Ken Ashley, President of McNair Hall, explained the developments leading up to this action. It started in the Winter Term with mass meetings of Carnatic students requesting the abolition of visiting restrictions in Salisbury and McNair.

As a result, a proposal was put forward to the Joint Halls Committee representing all the Halls of Residence, and comprising about 30 staff and 2 student members. Joint Halls Committee referred the matter back to the Halls sub-committees. Carnatic Hall sub-committee, consisting of five staff and two student members, met on Monday 3rd February. While agreeing to extend visiting hours in the women’s halls to those operating in the men’s halls, they would not support a proposal for unlimited visiting hours. The students’ compromise suggestion of visiting hours until 2 or 3 a.m. was also rejected.

A mass meeting of Carnatic students, on Monday February 10 – attended by 150 of the 400 students on the campus-reaffirmed their request for the abolition of visiting hours; a general opinion, which they considered had only been rejected because of the overwhelming staff representation on all committees.

It was quite clear that all channels were now completely blocked, said Mr. Ashley. At the Monday mass meeting it was decided that some form of physical protest was necessary. At midnight the same evening, 100 men from McNair Hall joined 100 women in the Salisbury foyer. From there they dispersed to the girls’ rooms until 1 a.m., when they returned to the entrance hall.

Mr. Ashley received an assurance from Miss Kenworthy, senior warden of Carnatic, that a committee with equal staff-student membership would be set up. Having reaffirmed their request for new negotiations with Joint Halls Committee, they then dispersed quietly.

Following the sit-in, Mr. Ashley had hoped for an extraordinary meeting of Joint Halls Committee to discuss the issue. At a meeting of the Hall Presidents, held on Tuesday, 11th March, at Roscoe Hall, Carnatic’s proposals met with a set-back. The committee decided it could not offer Carnatic support until each president had sounded out opinion with his own Hall.

The leaflet, circulated by Carnatic students on Wednesday, putting forward their proposals, was condemned as “irresponsible” by the committee. Mr. Ashley’s comment on this rebuff was, “We had hoped for backing.” Carnatic Hall felt left out in the cold by this refusal of backing from other Halls.

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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