The Times: letter from the Bishop of Whitby

Today’s issue of the Times has a letter from Jon Snow’s father, the Bishop of Whitby:

University Staff And Students

Letters to the Editor

From the Bishop of  Whitby

Sir,

No one would wish to suggest that the management of a university today is an easy task. But the tragic happenings at Liverpool lead one to ask certain important questions :

  1. Is not the first task of university authorities to keep open the channels of communication with the students ? Universities today are indeed fortunate in having hundreds of students who are deeply concerned about social, racial and national issue, far more so than earlier generations: and they are naturally concerned, too, about the administration of their affairs by the authorities. Here is the grand opportunity for involving the students with the authorities in constructive debate and social activity: yet the Liverpool authorities could not bring themselves to meet the students’ repeated requests for discussion, until they were driven in desperation to make their feeling clear by a regrettable ” sit-in”, revealing to all the world that communication had broken down.
  2. Students of 18 to 23 are today in fact as well as in law, adults. Can university authorities continue to treat them as adolescents, to be kept out of any valid say in the administration of the institution of which they are members? Many of them have already travelled the world, or done a year’s Voluntary Service Overseas, and to shut them out of discussion and decision-making is, to say the least of it, wasteful of a wonderful opportunity for creative cooperation.
  3. Clearly when the situation has deteriorated as far as a “sit-in” the position is almost beyond rescuing. But have the authorities at Liverpool considered whether the steps they have taken are more likely than those at other universities to lead to an improvement in communication with the students or to create a fresh round of unrest and resentment that will make communication even more difficult ?

Yours faithfully

George Whitby, 60 West Green, Stokesley, Middlesbrough, Teesside

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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