Prestige and Poverty

5 May 1969

This is the text of a leaflet circulated today in the Students Union, calling on students to attend a mass meeting to discuss the issues surrounding the opening of Senate House:

You  live in a street of downcast houses, half of them derelict and rotting. If a house is meant to be a home, then your place only barely meets the requirements. Your children sleep six in a bedroom, share beds, and suffer from the damp that pours through the roof and manifests itself in green mould on the furniture. Your house has been declared unfit for human habitation by the officials who count.

If you are a tenant in Abercromby – the University area – this is life and these are its problems.

And in a great many cases the University is your landlord.

On Thursday May 15th, Senate House, the latest of the University’s prestige buildings to rise out of one of the worst slum areas in the country, will be officially opened.

For the second time.

AT A COST OF SOMETHING LIKE £500.

That sum of £500 is interesting and ironic for the people of Melville Place .

Last December, after 13 years as landlord, the University ditched its tenants in Melville Place onto the Corporation – 13 years of neglect meant that large-scale repairs were needed urgently.

Indeed, the Corporation had declared the houses unfit for human habitation.

Nevertheless, the University, out of the kindness of its heart, felt it ought to offer these people something.

So it promised £300 to repair over 20 houses. That £300 still has not arrived.

So on May 15th the University will take great pride im declaring officially open a building which has cost £600,000. Distinguished visitors will be asked to wonder at this gleaming new prestige symbol, whilst averting their eyes from the real social problems and human misery across the road.

SENATE HOUSE IS A MONUMENT TO SOCIETY’S DISTORTED PRIORITIES, BUT IT IS EVEN MORE A GLARING INDICTMENT OF THE COLD-HEARTED CALLOUSNESS OF OUR UNIVERSITY’S ADMINISTRATION.

The Abercromby Tenants Association intend to picket Senate House on the day of the opening. In the Lounge Hall on Thursday at 12.30 there is an official mass meeting of Guild, called to decide on student action to support the tenants.

HAVE THE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS AND SOCIETY’ S DECISION-MAKERS GOT THEIR SPENDING PRIORITIES RIGHT?

SHOULD GUILD GIVE ITS OFFICIAL BACKING TO A STUDENT PICKET IN SUPPORT OF  THE TENANTS?

SHOULD GUILD OFFICIALS BOYCOTT THE OPENING DAY RECEPTION?

SHOULD GUILD REFUSE THE USE OF THE STUDENTS UNION FOR THE RECEPTION?

Mass Meeting – Lounge Hall – Thursday 8th – 12.30pm – Important – Vote!

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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