Ian Rathbone’s valedictory editorial for Guild Gazette today, summing up and assessing the events of the past year:
After one of the most troubled years in the University’s history, the summer term is ending with a whimper.
During this year the Deputy President resigned and left Liverpool with only half her term of office complete. The President had to fight desperately for re-election before Easter, and no Guild Council was complete between November and May.
More importantly, this year Liverpool has set the lead in handing out severe sentences to students who question university policies. One student has been expelled with only a few days to go before he sat his finals, and nine others have been suspended. One hundred and seventy-four students were kept waiting until a week before the exams when they were told that the University had decided not to press disciplinary charges.
When he arrived, in January, the new Vice-Chancellor, Trevor Thomas, was asked why there had been no student unrest at Liverpool. That question no longer is relevant.
Within Guild Sandy Macmillan has shown himself to be a bad President. By Christmas he had used his casting vote in Guild Council to save himself from a vote of no confidence. Later the following term there could be no doubt that Council had no confidence in him or his executive.
Yet, following his re-election, he still ignored a further call from Council to resign, and later Council was forced to pass a measure making votes of “no confidence” in officers of Guild binding.
During the period when there was no President, Sandy Macmillan told a mass meeting that we should conduct our own affairs and not let the University interfere. Yet, a week later, he was meekly accepting that the University had ignored the Committee elected by the students and had selected their own.
During the occupation, it was Sandy Macmillan who sat on the Advisory Board of Discipline which began the proceedings against the ten. He has done nothing to benefit Liverpool students during his year of office, and the most surprising thing is that twelve hundred people were sufficiently naive as to elect him- TWICE!
Relationships with the University, too, have reached an all-time low. It was the Vice Chancellor’s continual ignoring of communications from students which resulted in his being called over to a mass meeting on March 9th, and his pathetic performance their which led to the occupation.
Once they realised that they could not ignore students, the University resorted to the big fist.
The University has shown itself completely unable to understand its students.
A quiet summer term does not mean that there are no longer any problems, and that next year things will return to their old peaceful selves. Michael Dodgson does not offer any prospects of being a better President than Sandy Macmillan. He is rarely ever seen in the Union. As Vice-President for Financial Affairs he was a disaster. The “B” Societies fund ran out by Christmas and it is perhaps fortunate for Guild that he decided to accept the vote of no confidence, and left Gavin Graham to sort out the mess he had created.
Jackie Munton, the new Deputy President, offers scarcely better prospects. The main feature of her election manifesto was a promise to redecorate the Liver Bar and to extend the Sphinx – something which has been in hand for the past two years. She may well fulfil her promises – but it will be little thanks to her efforts!
As far as the University is concerned, there seems no prospect of them adapting their attitude to students. The men in Senate House have shown no inclination to reconsider and to establish better rather than worse relationships with the students. The election of a Tory Government, with promises of stiffer penalties on demonstrators, can only have served to harden their attitude.
Next year promises to be even more wrought with troubles than this. Students just cannot accept that that for all their efforts and protests this year little has been achieved. Presidents and the University alike have shown that they have a remarkable capacity to resist all movements for change. Yet this does not mean that students should sit back and accept that for the most part their efforts will be in vain.