Senate secret files opened by students

The new issue of Guild Gazette has this report on developments over the discovery of secret files at Warwick University, to be discussed at a mass meeting later today :

Students at Warwick University broke into the Vice-Chancellor’s office and examined files and other papers stored there, discovering that the University had been keeping files on the political activities of left-wing students and staff.

Extensive documentary evidence, which has been photostated and copies sent to every university in the country, shows that the Vice-Chancellor had been receiving intelligence reports from Rootes concerning a member of staff.

Secret information was passed to firms who were either considering student applications or who were looking for likely recruits, telling firms that certain students were ‘socialist agitators’ and therefore unemployable.  This revelation has caused some stir among students, since it means there is a possibility the same thing may be happening at Liverpool. It will be proposed at today’s mass meeting that the University opens its files on staff and students and that staff and students at Warwick University are not victimised.

Footnote from the future (2010)

The Warwick  files contained information that seemed to suggest that the administration and industrialists were acting improperly in pursuit of their vision of a ‘business university’. There were reports to the vice-chancellor from the managing director of Rootes Motors – a member of the university council – about academic staff and students who had met with Rootes workers; details of an investigation into whether a leftwing US academic could be deported; even a letter from a university council member wondering whether the unkempt, jeans-wearing students could be made to wear caps and gowns. The discovery of the files persuaded the occupying students to end the occupation and publicise their contents.

An inquiry was established, headed by Lord Radcliffe, Chancellor of the University (!). The Radcliffe Report said that  no political files were kept or ever had been kept bv Warwick University. There was no system of recording political information about students or staff for the purpose of using it to their prejudice or to their advantage either in their university careers or in employment elsewhere.

The university was the subject of a damning critique in a book entitled Warwick University Ltd, edited by the historian EP Thompson. The book demonstrated how the interests of business and industry had driven the direction and development of the university from its inception.


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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