This morning the Liverpool Daily Post carries a detailed report of yesterday’s tense meetings and negotiations, which came close to an occupation of Senate House. The Post reporter concludes with a quote from a speaker at yesterday’s mass meeting which crisply draws together the various strands of protest that have merged to produce the current highly charged political atmosphere:
Students at Liverpool University who demanded a showdown meeting with Mr Trevor Thomas, the new Vice-Chancellor, were outvoted at a mass meeting at the Students Union yesterday.
By a majority of 114, it was decided Mr Thomas should attend a meeting on his own terms on Monday to answer questions on what some students have called ‘a policy of secrecy’ by university authorities.
Earlier yesterday, students threw out a proposal to stage a protest sit-in at the Senate House over alleged secret files being kept on them by the University authorities. A delegation of three members of the Guild of Undergraduates committee went to Senate House, where a meeting was arranged with Mr Thomas and other officials.
They asked for an open meeting with the Vice-Chancellor within the next two days to discuss the question of secrecy. Otherwise, they said, they would go ahead with their proposed sit-in.
But Mr Thomas refused a meeting before Monday, and later the matter was put to the vote.
At first, 204 students voted for an extension of time and 209 against. A second vote was demanded and it resulted in 226 for and 221 against – a reversal of the majority of 5.
Then a third vote revealed 334 in favour and 220 against Mr Thomas’ terms for a meeting on Monday.
One of the speakers from the floor at the meeting claimed that the administration had:
“Ignored a plea to disclose what Chemical and Biological Warfare contracts are undertaken at the university; refused to reconsider the position of Lord Salisbury as our Chancellor, despite petitions, pickets and representations from mass meetings; refused even to dissociate itself – either as a body or as individuals – from Salisbury’s views; refused last week, with no reasons given, to reveal where the university’s investments lie, thus leading to a sneaking suspicion that they are investing in firms which bolster up Apartheid; and has seriously infringed the autonomy of the Guild in its reaction to last month’s officer resignations”.
The speaker said that he wanted the University to disclose the contents of all files such as those on investments, the Senate, the Council, Court minutes and research grants.
Last night MR Thomas could not be contacted for comment.