28 October 1969
The current issue of Guild Gazette reports on the Structure Commission, due to meet for the first time next week:
When the Structure Committee meets for the first time on Wednesday it may be without one of its major campaigners, Mr David Robertson.
The committee, set up largely as a result of Mr Robertson’s efforts, is to look into the government of academic affairs. Mr Robertson was overwhelmingly voted on to the committee at a mass meeting last term, but he is no longer a member of the University.
A joint agreement between the Guild of Undergraduates and Senate excludes from the committee all those who are not members of the University. Although seen in the Union on occasion, Mr Robertson graduated with an Honours Degree in Politics in June, and under the above rule he cannot take his seat on the committee.
It is felt that the Guild team who will now represent the University students could be somewhat lacking in power; Mr Robertson was notably articulate.
The committee will be composed of nine members of Guild and nine members of the academic staff.
The exact brief of the committee is “To examine the administrative procedures governing academic affairs which fall within the sphere of the Senate, and to recommend whether or not an changes are desirable.”
It is widely hoped within the Union that the committee will recommend that representatives of Guild should be able to sit on committees of Senate, as full members, and in some numbers.
Throughout last year there was a general mood of agreement throughout the Guild toward more participation in the government of the University. This, of course, is in common with many other Universities throughout Great Britain where students have made similar demands, often with considerable success.
The Guild representatives on the committee are: Mr Sandy Macmillan, President of Guild, Mr Gavin Graham, ex Vice-President for Financial Affairs, Mr Richard Davies, former President of Guild, Mr. Peter Cresswell, ex Guild Representative for Politics, Mr Christopher Allen, Mr J N Johns, Mr M. Dodgson, Ordinary Member of Executive.
In Professor Hair’s archive, there is a copy of a letter, dated 21 April 1969, from Richard Davies – then President of Guild – to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Barnes. The letter provides details of the origins of the Structure Commission and was written following an extraordinary meeting of Guild Council to discuss the role of students in University government. It was agreed unanimously to ask the University to cooperate with the Guild in establishing a Structure Commission. Davies continues:
The purpose of the Structure Commission would be to investigate the structure of the University, and the part which various sectors of the University could play in its government.
It was proposed at Guild Council that membership of the Committee should comprise nine members of academic staff and nine students.
At the same meeting Guild Council also passed unanimously two reso;utions calling for the availability to students of all Agenda and Minutes of University committees at Council, Senate, Faculty and departmental level.
A Senate Minute of 14 May records:
A memo was received from the President of the Guild of Undergraduates drawing attention to the fact that in several universities in this country, student representatives had been given places on the Senate of their university and forwarding a suggestion adopted at meetings of Guild Council that the University should constitute a Joint Committee of staff and students…to examine the role which students were playing, and would play in the future, in the government, both academic and administrative, of the University.
Agreed: that the proposal for discussions be welcomed in principle.
A further Senate Minute, 8 July 1969, records:
Agreed: that a Joint Committee of the Senate and the Council of the Guild of Undergraduates be appointed with the following terms of reference: “To examine the administrative procedures governing academic affairs which fall within the sphere of Senate, and to recommend whether or not any changes are desirable.”
The same minute records that under the constitution of the Joint Committee, there will be 9 student members, named as:
- Engineering Science: Mr AIS Macmillan
- Medicine: Mr M Dodgson & Mr J Johnson
- Arts: Mr C Allan & Mr P Cresswell
- Law: Mr R Davies
- Science: Mr G Graham