Sit-in will end today, say city’s rebel students

This morning the occupation is the lead story in the Daily Post, with the paper reporting the imminent end of the sit-in, and the University’s announcement of disciplinary charges:

Liverpool University’s rebel students last night decided to end their eleven-day sit-in at Senate House – the key administration building. They will leave after a mass meeting to be held at 10.30 a.m. today, last day of the university term.

Earlier, the university authorities had broken their self-imposed silence on the protest to announce disciplinary action to be taken against ten of the students. They received letters charging them with breaking rules and requesting them to appear before a tribunal during the Easter Vacation.

If the charges are proved, a University spokesman said, the students may be fined, suspended, or expelled. But it was pointed out by one militant student that the charges and the end of the sit-in were not connected.

One  of the  students who face  disciplinary charges, Mr John Aspinall, a final year law student, said : “If they think this will stifle  criticism, they are quite wrong. Of course, I don’t want them to send me down, but I felt there was a serious malaise in the University, and I was committed to the five principles we stood for.”

First-year geology student Mr Andrew Burton, also charged, said he had no regrets. ”I would  have taken part in the sit-in no matter what. I think it will harden resolve, but not necessarily prolong the sit-in”.  Their occupation had achieved two things: students had become more aware of the problems; and the authorities had  “obviously   been   embarrassed.”

A militant student statement argued that “to take  ten students and make them responsible for the actions of 300” was unfair. Mr   Burton said that, without agreeing with the University officials, he realised they had made “the  obvious  choice.”

Later, one of  the students admitted that eight of the ten charged were among a  widely known committee of ten, formed on the first day of the sit-in.

Mr Trevor Thomas, the Vice-Chancellor, said in a statement that the occupation was ” not only a breach of   University discipline, but also of the law of the land.” Among the effects he listed were: the difficulty of paying correct wages to weekly paid non-academic staff; and the problem of dealing  with  testimonials, grants, applications, and preparations for the June examinations.

Mr Thomas added that, thanks to the staff, administrative work was not brought to a standstill, as militants had boasted. But some of the effects of the occupation  were serious, not least to the students themselves. The Registrar, Mr Herbert  Burchnall, yesterday said the action of  the students  was  a serious breach of   University discipline and  a  contravention of the law. He said the  declared intention of the students who occupied the building, was to disrupt the administrative work  of the University and, if possible, to bring it to a halt.

A trade union leader claimed yesterday that porters, cleaners, gardeners and catering workers at the University were being hit financially by the student sit-in.

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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