Senate reoccupied after Thomas’ silence

The second lead in this week’s Guild Gazette concerns the recent brief re-occupation of Senate House in protest over the disciplining of the ten, and the University’s refusal to respond to requests for negotiations:

Just before the beginning of examinations, Senate House was reoccupied for three hours by some 150 students, while several hundred waited outside the building. The reoccupying students called for the Vice-Chancellor to address them, but after waiting some time he did not appear and the reoccupation  petered out.

This move, the latest over the disciplining of the 10, began at a mass meeting in the Mountford which was attended by some 400 students. Addressing the meeting, called to discuss further student action against the savage sentences imposed on the 10 students, Richard Davies and Jon Snow called for immediate positive action.

With several impassioned pleas Davies and Snow called for action against the University saying that if the authorities were allowed to get away with the sentences, then there was no knowing what they would do in the future.

“They’ve shown us what they can do when some people try to rock their boat; let’s show them how we will react,” said one speaker. He earned loud applause.

There seemed, however, some indecision as to what action should be taken, and when it was suggested that Mr Thomas, the Vice Chancellor should speak to the meeting. The idea was received favourably.

It was, however, pointed out that Mr Thomas was hardly likely to come to the Union to address a meeting so obviously hostile to himself, but someone replied that he himself had said, “My time is the students’ time.”

After long, protracted arguments as to whether the Vice Chancellor should come to the Union, or the students should go to Senate, a vote was taken and the majority favoured reoccupation by a substantial margin.

Some 400 students then walked across to Senate House, where their vanguard was met by locked front doors. The group then spread out around the building, many of them going into Abercromby Square.

Eventually, a side door was found to be open and some 150 students entered the building, and filed into the huge entrance hall while Senate staff looked on with interest and not a little trepidation.

Meanwhile, the majority of the students waited outside Senate House; after about half an hour it became known that the Academic Secretary, Mr Roy Butler was helping to negotiate with Mr Thomas and Gavin Graham, to try to persuade the Vice Chancellor to speak. Several hours later, during which time the students in Senate had been sitting around talking, reading or eating ice-cream, it became obvious that Mr Thomas was not going to appear, and an orderly retreat from Senate was put into effect.

In the Senate House foyer, Mr Roy Butler standing on left (with glasses) being questioned by Gavin Graham (centre).
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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

1 thought on “Senate reoccupied after Thomas’ silence”

  1. Generally my memory of these times and events has been quite shocking. It has been quite eerie seeing this character James Rees listed in different documents giving evidence, holding SocSoc Office etc when i have no recollection of the actions described!!!!
    However i have some clear memories. One was of climbing through a window in the Senate House to occupy it. Some of us had found a window open, so i climbed through. Just as i did a Porter/ Security man grabbed me. But because he was holding me he couldn’t stop others from climbing through the window after me. After a while, as others were climbing through the window in ever greater numbers, he gave up, let go of me and rushed off somewhere.
    I knew this didn’t happen during the first occupation but i couldn’t remember a second occupation. This post has made it all come clear.
    I don’t know whether there were others who come in through a door they found open, or whether the door was in fact my window!

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