We don’t want you, students tell Salisbury

The Daily Post leads this morning with their account of the protests yesterday against Lord Salisbury and his planned attendance at the Guild Ball:

The Marquess of Salisbury, Chancellor of Liverpool University, did not attend a Students’ Union dinner and dance last night after being told by students: “We don’t want you to come.”

About 200 students, opposed to Lord Salisbury’s political views, held a six hour sit in at Mountford Hall, the Students’ Union, and planned a demonstration at the 8 pm dinner at the university’s Sefton Room.

But Lord Salisbury, his wife, Lady Salisbury, and other invited guests, including the Vice Chancellor of the university, Mr Trevor Thomas, did not turn up.

Lord Salisbury met a delegation of six students at the Adelphi Hotel at 4 pm yesterday. Following a chat over a cup of tea, one of the students, who declined to give his name, said: “We came to tell Lord Salisbury that we felt he should not come to the dinner and ball. We feel that in his position as Chancellor, the views he has taken on matters relating to black people in central and southern Africa are not compatible with a multiracial university. He said he was not coming to the dance anyway, but he was reserving his judgement on whether he would attend the dinner. He said he would not be attending the dance because he did not want to be the cause of young people not enjoying themselves.”

Lord Salisbury, they said, had taken a reasonable attitude during the discussions. “Towards the end he said he was being bullied, but otherwise he was very reasonable.”

The students claimed that the fact the Lord Salisbury had been invited to the dinner and dance had been deliberately kept from them and they only discovered it two days ago.

After the meeting Lord Salisbury declined to comment.

A student addresses guests at the dinner, explaining the reason for the demonstration. Most of the seats were empty.

The decision to send the delegation to meet him was taken at a meeting of about 200 students during the afternoon. At 7pm they staged a sit-in in the Sefton Room and Abercromby Room until it became clear that neither Lord Salisbury nor several invited guests would be attending the dinner.

Casually dressed students, carrying placards saying  “We don’t want a racial university” mingled with guests in formal dress, who were expecting a reception with Lord Salisbury.

The dinner started with almost half the seats empty as the students stood round the tables. Some of the guests stood and applauded after one of the student leaders made a speech setting out the students’ objections. Mr Sandy Macmillan, president of the Student Union, said that it was on his advice that Lord Salisbury did not attend the dinner.

“The students convened in Mountford Hall at 1pm,” he said, “but it was not until 3 pm that they made their intentions clear. I met Lord Salisbury at 5 pm and discussed the matter with him.  In view of the situation and in view of the time factor, we had no alternative. I recommended to him that it would be inadvisable for him to come and he was kind enough to agree to this request. As the Chancellor did not come, neither did the Vice-Chancellor or any of the university officials.”

This, he added, amounted to about 75 guests – about half the number of people expected to attend the dinner.

DEmonstrating students, sitting on a window ledge, hold up a banner as a guest takes his place for last night's dinner.

Lord Salisbury had travelled specially from his home in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, to attend the function. Mr Macmlllan denied reports that the fact that Lord Salisbury had been invited had been deliberately kept from the students. ” It is automatic that the Chancellor is invited to our functions, as are all the senior officials of the university,” he said. “I would expect the students to know this.  On this occasion the Chancellor chose to accept the invitation, although he has not done so for some time.”

Mr Macmillan said none of the students had approached him to ask whether Lord Salisbury would attend .

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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