This letter, in The Times today, is a response to yesterday’s letter from Jon Snow’s father, the Bishop of Whitby. It is from E G White, Professor Veterinary Preventive Medicine, University of Liverpool:
Staff And Students: Contacts At Liverpool University
Letters to the Editor
From Professor E. G. White
May I refer to the letter from the Bishop of Whitby published in The Times on April 15. As a father I understand fully the feelings of the Bishop whose ‘son was among those students who have been suspended by a board of discipline in connexion with ” the tragic happenings at Liverpool”; but it is just not true that the ” sit-in ” occurred because the students were, in the Bishop’s words, driven to desperation by the un- willingness of the Liverpool authorities to meet their repeated requests for discussion.
As acting Vice-Chancellor in the autumn term of 1969 and as a pro-Vice-Chancellor in the preceding three years I was in an excellent position to know of the good relations between our former Vice-Cancellor, Dr. Barnes and the officers of the Guild of Undergraduates, of his efforts to arrange for increased participation bv students and of the steps he took to set up a joint staff-student committee to discuss the ways in which the university works with special reference to the activities of the Senate. I was chairman of this joint committee in the latter months of 1969 and it is through no fault of the staff members that so far it has only met twice. Early in February a constitutional crisis in the autonomous Guild of Undergraduates with the resignation of all its officers as a result of internal dissension made formal communication difficult.
In spite of this informal discussions continued and on the day when the Senate House was occupied by some 200 students the Vice-Chancellor had with the university treasurer addressed some 2,000 students on a number of questions about which they were concerned. During the last two years progress has been made in Liverpool in providing opportunities for students to participate in university affairs. As a member of a small faculty, that of veterinary science, I can state that such participation has proved invaluable.
In spite of recent events there is no reason why the excellent record of Liverpool for good staff-student relations should not continue. We parents know however that our children may not tell us all the facts of a situation especially when it is one in which they have become involved to a degree which hurts both them and us. As the Bishop says young people of 18 to 23 are adults and are not to be treated as adolescents. We have no wish to treat them as such and only ask that they do not behave as such.
E G White, Professor Veterinary Preventive Medicine, University of Liverpool