This evening there was a mass meeting in the Mountford Hall, called to discuss the issue of secret files, following the developments at Warwick University. This leaflet was distributed in advance of the meeting by Socialist Society:
THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTIONS WILL BE PUT TO THE MASS MEETING
TODAY IN THE MOUNTFORD HALL AT 5.15
- Open the files of Liverpool University on staff and students.
- No victimisation of staff or students at Warwick University.
- Disassociation of our Vice-Chancellor and this university from the actions of the administration at Warwick.
These motions follow the widely publicised developments at Warwick University in the last week. Students there discovered extensive evidence in university files that the political activities of students and staff were being watched, that the Vice-chancellor received reports from a director of Rootes concerning lectures by a left-wing member of staff, that spies were sent to Labour and Socialist meetings, and that information was being collected about the activity of staff and students outside the university.
The Warwick files have now been published in Essex, York, Lancaster, and now Liverpool universities. They reveal alarming evidence of industrial control in the educational sector, and of a close watch on the political and extracurricular activities of staff and students.
THESE DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN DEFIANCE OF A COURT INJUNCTION BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THEM TO BE OF THE GREATEST IMPORTANCE TO ALL STAFF AND STUDENTS IN ANY UNIVERSITY. WE HOPE THE FOLLOWING EXTRACTS FROM THE DOCUMENTS WILL ILLUSTRATE THIS POINT.
A confidential letter from the headmaster of William Ellis School, London, to Vice-Chancellor, JB Butterworth. It concerns the UCCA application of a student to enrol at Warwick. The letter points out the candidate’s ‘preoccupation with student politics’, notes the fact that the person in question is a committee member of the Schools Action Union (SAU) and has ‘expressed his intention to embark on militant action when necessary.
It continues, ‘I felt that it was important that you should be aware of this in making your decision. At the foot of the letter had been written, ‘Reject this man – JBB. A reply from the Registrar expressed gratefulness for the information and went on:
“You may wish to know – privately – that the course selector has decided not to make an offor in this case. But it will no doubt be a week or two before the candidate hears of this officially through UCCA.’
A letter from OJ Chenevix-Trench, MBE, County Education Officer, to Mr Butterworth, Vice-Chancellor (marked Personal). It encloses a leaflet issued by three Warwick students to pupils at a local grammar school. A reply from the Vice-Chancellor says:
I am afraid a Vice-Chancellor has now by law no further influence over the outside activities of his students. It continues, ‘Do you think it would be worthwhile making enquiries in Coventry? There may be more behind this than the action of a few students.’