Guild Gazette editorial

This week’s Guild Gazette, published today, carries this editorial on recent events; the editor is Ian Rathbone.

“There is nothing so distasteful to me as that a University should involve the whole paraphernalia of the Law of which it understands nothing.” – T C Thomas, March 9th, 1970

Of course,  Mr. Thomas was referring to Civil Law, but as we all know, the Disciplinary Proceedings were so close to Civil Law as made no difference. They hired a professional lawyer at an estimated cost of £1,800 and the cases were conducted on Civil Court lines. However the judges were not neutral or uninvolved in the situation, as was demonstrated by Professor Bawne bringing forward his own evidence at the Appeals on May 1st.

It is obvious that the Vice-Chancellor, like a stern headmaster, has decided to cane some of his naughty students and caned them hard. Whether this is part of the Tory ‘Law and Order’ campaign is a matter of debate. What is certain is that this new Vice-Chancellor of ours, within five months of coming here, has alienated his students and has provoked opposition from workers of the City. This is the man who wanted “a full University involvement in the City” and “the City’s greater involvement University life.”

This is the man who said to the Liverpool Daily Post in January, “students should be involved as fully as possible in the running of the University…They want to be a part of the life that surrounds them”, yet when they do try to influence what happens in their University they are thumped mercilessly into the ground. Is this the way to show students they are a part of an academic community, which obviously does not exist?

This is the man who said to Gazette in January, “the channels (of communication) are open”, yet he has recently written to some students’ parents saying that the problems of communication are great. That is an understatement  to say the least. Apart from his belated attempt on March 9th, them is little evidence to show that there has been any communication between himself and the majority of his students.  He could be no farther from his students now than if he were in Australia. He is entombed in a bureaucratic ivory tower.

This man has also refused to grant an interview with Gazette at the present time, yet it is crucial at this time for him to speak. He said on March 9th, “I want to talk to students… my time is your time.” Is it not reasonable for him to finish answering the questions that he began answering on March 9th, or is there a deliberate evasion of the issues involved?

This man claims that he believes in the right of the individual to freedom of thought which we all believe in, but there is some discrepancy between theory and practice here. Many are angry at the harshness of the sentences imposed because they signify than an individual is inhibited in his freedom of expression in a University where that freedom should be supreme.

Any claim that the University was forcibly prevented from working by the occupation must be questioned because all Senate office workers continued their jobs, in other parts of the campus, as a prepared plan for a “Senate in Exile.” The reasons for the occupation – to secure an answer to the Five Principles – have been totally ignored.

To say that students “placed themselves above the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations of the University” is to ignore the fact that not only was there no Guild Council, President or Executive at the time of the Occupation, the Six-Man Committee elected as a caretaker government was ignored by Mr Thomas as illegal.  There was no alternative.  Even now he refuses to meet the negotiating committee – elected last week – or speak to a mass meeting.

What matters in this University – the students or the bureaucrats? You CAN involve the University in an emotion.  The Vice-Chancellor MUST realise that violence begets violence, and while he continues to ignore his students and repress them he can expect no sympathy or cooperation.

This man told the Liverpool Daily Post that “I think of that advice given to a professor who became an administrator…’Say to yourself every morning, I am evil; am I necessary one?’  I agree with that”.  Perhaps he should examine the present situation in that light.


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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