Liverpool students counter sit-in with a sit-out

The Senate House sit-in - taken before Daily Post photographer Nigel Wrigglesworth was asked to leave in order to avoid an ugly scene.

This is how the Liverpool Daily Post reports the start of the occupation this morning, in a report that dominates the front page and continues at length on page nine, accompanied by several photos:

About 300 Liverpool University students staged a sit-in at the Senate House yesterday following a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Trevor Thomas. Meanwhile, a similar-sized body of moderate students staged what they termed a ‘sit-out’ as an anti-protest against the action being taken by their colleagues.

But despite this, the occupation of the Senate building continued and late last night the students were sleeping on floors in offices and corridors. Supplies of food had been taken in. Student leaders said they would lock out all the administration staff when they turned up for work today. “The whole university will grind to a halt.”

Sit-in students take bread and other stores into the Senate building last night.

During the meeting earlier, 1,500 students had confronted Mr Thomas and Mr H. B. Chrimes, the university treasurer. They demanded to know the contents of files on undergraduates; what contracts the University had with the Ministry of Defence concerning materials of bacteriological and chemical warfare , what investments the university had in firms bolstering Apartheid nations; why the Senate had made no statement regarding the position of Lord Salisbury as Chancellor; and why the administration had infringed the autonomy of the Guild of Undergraduates following last month’s officer resignations.

Before the split: a student finds a way of asking a question at the meeting by climbing over the first row of students to get to a microphone.

Following the ninety minute meeting, a numnber of students were dissatisfied with the answers given them. Although a vote had been taken against a sit-in they marched to the Senate House, the University administration block at 2.15 pm where they elected a ‘security’ committee and locked all doors.

Meanwhile, a group of moderate students who remained at Mountford Hall decided to go ahead with their sit-out. They marched to the Senate House, in Abercromby Square, and paraded round the building at 4 pm chanting “sit-in out.”

The sit-out students march across Abercromby Square to Senate House in a bid to end the sit-in.

Mike Dodgson, leader of the moderate faction, then read out a statement saying: “We strongly and unconditionally disassociate ourselves from any militant action. We are emphatic in condemning this action of a minority group which is totally unrepresentative of the Guild. Therefore, we demand that the militants remove themselves immediately from the administration building of our University and end their childish and irresponsible action.”

The statement added: “We have n0 political axe to grind, neither are we racialists, but we cannot allow this small minority to blacken the name of the responsible and intelligent students of Liverpool University.”

Students from both camps said they would be getting in touch with Mr Thomas today. Mr Thomas had told the students at the meeting: “I accept that political opinions and affiliations of students and staff are not the business of the university. A university should not keep files of such matters and the same applies to political activities provided that they are within the law.”

When he was asked if the students could inspect the files he said: “No. I believe it is not possible for you to inspect the files.”

Although yesterday revealed the first sign of a split in the ranks of students occupying Manchester University, the sit-in continued and will today be reinforced by a mass march through the city. A motion to boycott all lecturers until the next mass students’ meeting was withdrawn.

Four hundred students occupying the Cornwallis Building at the University of Kent, Canterbury, since Wednesday, have been told by Mr Roger Hardy, a lecturer in Humanities, that his refusal to sign references for them will continue until the barricades come down.  Students claimed that his action was victimisation.

Students at Sussex University at Brighton yesterday accepted new proposals over personal files. The proposals will be discussed by the senate tomorrow. Yesterday’s three and half hour meeting rejected a demand for the occupation of the university’s administration building.

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

1 thought on “Liverpool students counter sit-in with a sit-out”

  1. If you look closely I think you will discover that the hardened radical in the Che beret delivering much needed supplies of Quosh to the Senate is none other than myself. I seem to remember James E Brown showing me this cutting after the Sit In – Does Gerry have access to this archive too? Also what about back copies of the Guild Gazette?
    STOP PRESS – For those interested in the paranormal – as I typed in the name of James E Brown above Funky Christmas by his famous namesake started belting out of my iTunes – weird or what?
    Mike Keating

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