Two letters with contrasting viewpoints appear in Letters to the editor in today’s issue of Guild Gazette. The first, from Joe Paley, a Law students, puts the sentences of the Board of Discipline in the national context:
Don’t view the sentences in isolation from the national scene
In the light of the recent discipline proceedings that have taken place at Liverpool as a result of last term’s occupation of the Senate Building, there has been much well meaning indignation at the severity of the sentences.
It is distressing, however, to find that the majority of the feeling generated has tended to view the sentences in isolation from the national scene.
It is indeed surprising that whilst few would disagree that the student disorder was a national issue last term, few will now accept that the reaction to this has been nationally planned.
Whilst not wishing to impune the integrity of the Board of Discipline and the independent nature of their decision, there are certain facts which should be brought to the attention of both the Board of Discipline and those who still see the Liverpool situation in isolation:
- The Law and order campaign (Tory initiated) which is grinding up to full swing in this country.
- The Vice Chancellor’s meeting which took place on March 13th, almost immediately after the Liverpool occupation began.
- The meeting between the Vice Chancellors and the Prime Minister.
- The militant line which has suddenly been taken throughout the British campuses against dissident students.
With reference to point 4, it is not coincidental that in the last few weeks Paul Hoch has been committed to prison by the LSE authorities, Cambridge students are coming up on a riot charge, three Essex students have been committed to Borstal, one suspended at Keele, 50 sent down at Edinburgh, Bolchover expelled from Oxford, six Swansea students on a conspiracy charge (relating to the Christmas Springbok demonstration) and elsewhere on all campuses, students have been warned that if they cause trouble, they face discipline.
We are experiencing the changeover period from discipline for selected ‘offences’ which takes into account the reasons for the trouble to a non selective blind reaction against student militancy of any sort.
The only correct term for this situation is proto-fascism – reliance on fear authoritarianism in the complete absence of an understanding of the situation.
Criticism of the University structure and allegiance to business is now per se dangerous to the administrators and will be treated as such. Bearing this in mind it is surely naive to see Liverpool in isolation from the rest of the universities or indeed from the industrial scene.
There can be little doubt that Liverpool is being used as a test case, an experiment in militant bashing, to see the effect of the heavy hand policy, as against the soft glove policy which has proved to be a failure.
For this reason, it is critical that Liverpool does not take this victimisation lying down, since this would only encourage the national Vice Chancellor’s committee to make vicious reaction their long term policy.
Joe Paley (Law)
Vets say too lenient
On behalf of the Veterinary Society we would like to point out that at a recent meeting, the Society voted by 1 20 votes to 1, with five abstentions, to dissociate themselves from the motions passed at the Council Meeting on 23rd April. A motion was also passed fully supporting the procedure and findings of the Disciplinary Committee. Finally, we consider the behaviour of the students involved in last term’s sit-in disgraceful, and prejudicial to the good name of this fine University.
John Hine (President), C J Brown (Secretary)