Hamsters and prams at student sit-in

The Guardian has a front-page report today on the occupation at the end of the first week:

Two old prams appeared in the centre of the Senate Chamber at Liverpool University yesterday – the eighth of the students’ occupation of the Senate House – and hamsters frolicked in a cafe.  Protest songs blared from an improvised public address system.

The prams were brought in for a performance of Pericles’ by the Portable Theatre Company of London which is appearing the Students’ arts festival.  The company added a performance to its programme for the sit-in audience.

The significance of hamsters was unexplained but, in spite of their cage, they were obviously enjoying themselves far more than the trio of porters in their glass reception cubicle. Near the entrance stalls offered works as varied as A Life of Lenin, Peace News, and a pamphlet on ‘ The myth of the vaginal organ’ [sic].

Eight days after the 200 administrative staff were locked out of their main adiministrative building by 300 militants, the walls are papered with protest slogans on race and 0ther issues. The occupiers are  thriving on a diet of protest songs, discussions, meetings, and talks from 0utside speakers. ‘It’s getting a bit like home’, one said yesterday.

Nonetheless imp0rtant decisions must be made soon – with three days to the Easter holiday, and with nearly 6,000 students still on the outside. “We decided today to stay in occupation for the present”, a spokesman explained. He added that it had been decided to hold an industrial forum which the students hoped would be addressed by shop stewards from industry. They had also been doing extensive research into speeches made by the Chancellor, Lord Salisbury, since 1937.

The spokesman conceded that there were now differences of opinion about the occupation, but claimed they were not serious. Morale, he said, was high, although there had been no response from the Vice-Chancellor on the students’ demands.

At Warwick, university students gained a minor victory yesterday in their fight for reform of the administration. About one hundred students took part in a demonstration which forced the council to change the venue of  its meeting at the last moment. One student was arrested and charged with obstruction.

In Oxford students were discussing the possibility of an appeal against fines imposed by the university proctors because of a break-in at the Clarendon Building in search of files. Five of the 11 students who received summonses were fined yesterday. Cases against the ‘other six are due to be completed today.

Most of the 760 students at the Swansea College of Education boycotted lectures yesterday morning to stage a protest. They are asking that grants be paid to them direct so that they can choose their lodgings and feed themselves. They say there is not enough choice in the menu of the college canteen, and that the kitchen staff are unable to supply a variety of meals because kitchen equipment is inadequate.

Councillor Pen Evans, chairman of the governors who met yesterday, said he and his colleagues on Swansea’s education committee, were ‘very serious’ about their warning to students.  The committee has said that grants will not be renewed if students fail examinations because they have wasted time on demonstrations and boycotts.

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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