Ten get national support

Another item in today’s special issue of Guild Gazette reports on last week’s mass meeting called to discuss the situation following the disciplinary proceedings:

A mass meeting was called on Tuesday, 21st April, to discuss the situation that has arisen out of the disciplinary measures that have been taken against ten people who were involved in last term’s sit-in.

Mr O Swingler chaired the meeting, and called on Mr D Robertson to give an account of the activities of the March 19th Committee that was set up to fight the appeal against these sentences. Mr Robertson began by outlining the nature of support that the Committee had received. This ranged from telegrams of solidarity from universities such as Oxford and the LSE to support from Labour movements on Merseyside.

He said they had got “a fantastic response” from these movements and illustrated that at Shell the shop stewards had collected £16 between themselves for the appeal fund.

Mr Robertson went on to say that the Liverpool Trades Council were supporting the committee’s actions and wanted to send a delegation to the Vice Chancellor to demand the representation of trade union officials on the university’s administrative council.

He concluded his talk by saying that the students were not in isolation over this issue; but that many people had shown support from outside academic communities and ended by introducing three representatives from a local construction site who expressed their support for the appeal fight.

Mr P Cresswell told the students that J Aspinall was not allowed to call certain witnesses and also objected to several members of the board; and he objected on the grounds that Mrs Collins had signed a petition condemning the sit-in and therefore could not be impartial.

Mr R Davies said that the Board seemed to be more interested in the organisation of the sit-in than the actual trials. He informed the students that before any charge goes before the Disciplinary Committee, it goes in front of the Advisory Board and that Mr. Macmillan sits on this board. He stressed that no President of Guild should sit on a committee that advises on disciplinary measures.

Mr Sandy Macmillan urged the student body to show their solidarity with the ten disciplined students by supporting the May Day strike in Liverpool.

The meeting had been called to elect three members of Guild to negotiate with the University over the five demands of the sit-in and also to elect members of Guild to sit on a Joint Committee with the Trades Council of Liverpool concerning the means to implement their support with the ten disciplined students, demanding an enquiry into the sentences and also demanding Trades Council representatives on the University Council.

Mr Macmillan opened the meeting and gave a chronological account of the events of the last few weeks, outlining the disciplinary measures which took place during the vacation. He urged the student body to forget the differences between various groups, supporting or condemning the sit-in.

“We must show in some shape or form our strong disapproval of the harshness of the sentences imposed on these students,” he said, and went on to add that he had received several messages of solidarity from other colIeges and universities.

He went on to say that the sit-in was a representation of interests and that as no damage was done, .he sentences were far too harsh. He also criticised the methods of the disciplinary board in not allowing the accused students free legal representation.

Mr Beasly-Murray, in reply, spoke at length saying that students had not heard othe other side of the case. “All we have heard is probably full of lies, exaggerated and biased,” he said. He added that the sentences were too lenient because the students had broken the rules by which the university functions. “These students took a firm line of physical coercion and held the university to ransome,” he said.

He was interrupted frequently by heckling and shouting, and eventually stood down. Mr I Williams then explained the role of the Liverpool Trades Council in the recent troubles, saying that the Council had passed a resolution deploring the disciplinary actions of the university and had sent a delegation to see the Vice Chancellor.

Mr Macmillan then introduced a representative of the Trades Council who was attending the meeting. The representative told the meeting of the delegation which went to see the Vice Chancellor last week. He alleged that the Vice Chancellor told the delegation that no verbatim report had been taken during the disciplinary proceedings, due to the fact that there was inadequate technical staff present as the board sat during the vacation. The representative went on to describe the Vice Chancellor’s reply to the deputation’s questions on the student’s appeals. He told the meeting that Mr. Thomas said a verbatim report would be sent to the students for their appeal. The inconsistency of the Vice Chancellor’s replies were pointed out to the meeting by the representative.

Three members of Guild were then elected unopposed to negotiate with the University over the five occupation demands, and these were Messrs T Hobson, R Davies and O Swingler. The meeting then elected, again unopposed, five students to sit on the Joint Council with the Trades Council,and these were: Messrs N Varley, I Williams, T Dempster, P Cresswell and P Langford.

Mr Macmillan then proposed that a meeting of Guild be held the following day at 11 am in the Mountford Hall, where two motions would be debated; the first condemning the disciplinary action of the university and the second supporting the May Day strike.

He closed the meeting at 1.30 pm, urging students to attend the meeting next day and also to support the May Day strike.


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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