Thomas attacks ‘militant group’

This week, Guild Gazette leads its front page with a report on the Vice-Chancellor’s uncompromising response to the events surrounding the occupation in his annual report.  The article also sees a general pattern of repression and intolerance of students’ rights emerging both abroad and in this country – and particularly at Liverpool University, citing the formation of  the Association for the Future of Liverpool University.

The Vice-Chancellor, Mr TC Thomas, last Friday condemned in his annual report to the Court what he called “the action by a small minority group of militant students” at Liverpool University this year which, he alleged, “besmirched the enviable reputation which the student body had built for itself.”

In what is his first statement on the events of last year, and his first definite line of policy since becoming V-C last January, he said he hesitated to publicise further those “unhappy events” but certain aspects deserved recording for their lessons. He also stated that use of force, such as a sit-in, had to be outlawed.

His remarks have alarmed many students and are likely to cause further trouble. They are also seen, like the new conduct rules laid down at the start of term, as part of an international clamp-down on students.

Trevor Thomas, Vice-Chancellor

“The attempt by a minority militant group to overthrow the lawful constitution of the Guild has a lesson for the student body as a whole”, claimed Mr. Thomas, “The Guild must be vigilant in perceiving and in heading off attempts by such groups to abuse the procedural rules of the Guild Constitution for their own ends.”

He went on to relate this to a wider context than the University. “History will perhaps find it strange to record that it is the interests of majorities and not those of minorities that stood in need of protection”. In claiming that a sit-in was a use of force he argued that “in a University community, force in support of any argument or cause must be outlawed.

“It would be regrettable and unfair however, if the irresponsible action of the very few came to be attributed to the student body as a whole.” Mr Thomas concluded, “I prefer to believe that the majority recognise that the way for more effective participation by the student body in the life and work of the University is through a willingness to discuss, compromise and work for a solution that will be lasting and not merely “relevant to a passing phase.”

At the NUS Conference held last weekend at Margate, copies of a confidential letter drawn up by a group of academics inviting university teachers to sign a manifesto for the ‘preservation of  freedom in the academic community’ were circulated by students from York University. The manifesto, which has attracted 150 signatures of academics from 20 universities states that university authorities should sack persistently rebellious students and attacks sit-ins as unacceptable forms of protest.

It calls for new disciplinary codes which students must agree to before admission. Infringements would be punished and continual breaking of the rules would lead to students being sent down. “Some universities have already established such principles and are putting  them into practice.”

A new code of conduct was established here at Liverpool at the beginning of term and it will be remembered that ten students were disciplined and suspended last year without committing any prior offences.

”University authorities should not negotiate under duress,” states the manifesto and declares that while some consultation with students may be welcomed, “the ultimate decision-making responsibility must rest and be seen to rest entirely on the appointed staff of the university.”

NUS President Jack Straw commented, “I think the most objectionable part is that which relates to student non-involvement in university life. It means they must be seen but not heard. Students have been fighting against this sort of reactionary attitude for some years.”

One of the original drafters of the manifesto, Professor Cox of Manchester University, co-editor of the Black Papers on education (which recommended maintenance of the old public school and Grammar School systems) denies what many delegates at the Margate Conference considered the manifesto to be – proof of the establishment of a new international committee of “reactionary academics”.

A League of Freedom of Science formed last week to “combat student revolt in Western European universities” includes 100 professors from Britain, the USA, France, West Germany, and Italy. It denied an accusation from the West German Students Association that it camouflages Right-wing aims and is financed by West German industry, and called the VDS (as the Association is known) a communist controlled organisation.

The VDS has published a letter from the West German League of  Employers’ Associations urging its members to send money to the new academic group as “the voice of reason in the explosive situation in the universities.”

In America an international ‘trouble-shooting brigade’ called the International Committee on the University Emergency has been set up by 103 leading academics, aiming to help any university that finds itself in trouble from extremists, subversives, interfering politicians of Left or Right or outside pressure groups. It is financed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

According to one member, Mr Charles Frankel, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, it is, “in no way a backlash movement springing from recent  campus disorders. There has been extreme polarisation in our universities and we are trying to fill the vacuum in the middle.”

Students in America are however doubtful of these claims or of the exact nature of the Committee’s support. They also think the members to be misguided to think any university is going to consult an oujtside body like this when dealing with student demands.

The Association for the Future of Liverpool University, set up last term [by Professor Hair of the History Faculty] is also “opposed to violence and disruption” and asks other universities to join in “dissuading others from violence and disruption”.

ln a publicity handout AFLU state they are convinced of the need to give new meaning to the old values of intellectual tolerance and liberalism.

History students point out that to give a new meaning to these permanent values is to lead to two political extremes of Right or Left.

AFLU originated from academics in the history department yet though AFLU wants to encourage discussions between themselves and students the history department staff-student committees are described by the students as a farce which merely satisfy the wooly minded liberalism of the staff. The dissatisfaction of the Joint honours students are also totally ignored.

It seems that a general pattern of repression, intolerance of students’ rights to question what they see as wrong, is emerging both abroad and in this country, and particularly at Liverpool University.


Gazette editorial: 30 June 1970

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.

Presidential election for 1970-71 session: the manifestos

Today is voting day in the elections for President and Deputy President for the next session, 1970-71.  These are the candidates’ manifestos:

Michael S Dodgson

We, the members of this Guild, have some of the best facilities in Britain, if not in Europe. For some time now, these have been abused by some of those around us. It is my aim to see that this stops.

We are a large club whose activities are many and varied. Amongst our pursuits should certainly be an interest in politics; but this must not be allowed to continue its domination of Guild life to the detriment of other aspects.


The events of this Term have proven that a Mass Meeting system is not representative in the long run. This reinforces the Referendum decision of last November, favouring the representative Council system. The following measures will increase the efficiency of Guild Council by bringing its work into greater contact with the students it represents:

  1. Re-arrangement of schedules to allow councillors time to consult their ‘A’ Societies on the  important issues likely to arise.
  2. Widespread publication on Students’ Union, Departmental and Hall of Residence Noticeboards of Motions to be debated.
  3. Requesting of advance written notification of question.s to enable complete and satisfactory answers to be given at all times.
  4. Posting of important Council decisions on noticeboards as soon after the meeting as possible.

Between Guild Council meetings, rapid vertical communication can be improved by greater contact between ‘A’ Society Presidents and the two sabbatical Officers.


With a proposed expansion to 10,000 students by 1975, it is vital that undergraduates,  post-graduates and the non-professional staff are represented on Senate and, more importantly, its Committees. The approach of the Senate representatives on the “Structure Commission” to the principle of student participation has made it evident that the University realises its need to hear student opinion BEFORE decisions are taken. Skilful negotiation next year can ensure that we have the influence in decision-making which our role in the academic community demands.


Consultation with the Vice-President for Internal Affairs must ensure that all established facilities in the Students’ Union are working efficiently. The plans for the extension of the Sphinx Bar and the Cloakrooms have been drawn up; they must now be acted upon.

The Stanley Theatre is already used to the full, so there is an urgent need for at least one rehearsal room and also for a control room at the back of the Theatre.

The needs of the ‘B’ Societies for more medium-sized meeting rooms can only be met by a first floor extension between the Abercromby Room and the Large Committee Room. This is the only area where a vertical addition to the building is structurally possible.


Less than 40% of students are registered with the Health Service. It must, therefore, be made more effective in meeting the needs of the other 60%. A permanent doctor would be able to co-operate fully with the Student Counsellor. Creche facilities can be made available by the beginning of next year, supplementing the already successful Playgroup.

Accommodation is an ever increasing problem and the University must be encouraged to meet its responsibilities by increasing the accommodation available and reducing the pressure on the Student Welfare Department.

In a stable environment, there is much to be achieved. I cannot guarantee stability, but I can assure you that I shall do everything possible to maintain it if elected.

Proposer’s statement

Aged twenty-two, Michael Dodgson is a fifth year Medic who has no illusions about recent events in Guild or the difficulties which lie ahead. Certain elements in Guild, hell-bent on precipitating a crisis, have achieved nothing save the short-term loss of our autonomy from which many Society activities have suffered.

Michael Dodgson knows where the interests of Guild lie and this is why I am proposing him. This year he has gained valuable experience of working on the Executive where most latterly he has served as vice-president for Financial affairs, earning a reputation for reliability.

What we demand of a new President is the guts to stand up to the unruly political opportunists who have prevented the operation of Constitutional Government in Guild. We demand that the present situation be stabilised so that necessary improvements we expected in the Student Health Service, for example, will become a reality during the next Presidency. I am confident Michael will fulfil these expectations.

Above all, however, we demand a competent Executive.  Only Michael Dodgson is capable of attracting such support. The is no choice. Lend him your support, too!
T W Shuttleworth, (Law), Proposer
E Bowie (Miss), Science (Maths)
A J K Purves, Science (Chemistry).
A B Charlwood, Arts (Politics).

Paul Thompson


We believe that a supporter of racialist and apartheid regimes should not be Chancellor of this University. Salisbury does not support these regimes merely because he does not like black people. He does so because Vorster, Smith & Co protect his business interests; racialism and capitalism are thus interrelated.

Racialism is one of the means by which capitalism defends itself; its manifestations are many and equally ugly, whether they be Enoch Powell, Hitler, Paisley or Lord Salisbury.


The controversy over the opening of the files of Warwick University has served to emphasise that universities are the academic representatives of big business. Don’t think Warwick is an isolated example; the Senate of Liverpool University is drawn exclusively from leading industrialists, bankers and the like. There is even a director of the Economic League, the intellectual blackshirts of free enterprise. Because big business is in such a strong and controlling position they are able to dictate their policies to the supposedly ‘disinterested’ academics.


Capitalism manifests itself in other ways in the University. There are £3,000,000 worth of assets invested in various segments of industry although the University will not admit where. The Guild itself is also connected; £28,000 worth of investments, many related to Southern Africa thus helping to prop up apartheid.


Details have recently come to light which shows that the University is involved in government military contracts which are researching into methods of Chemical and Biological Warfare. The University must disclose the facts of this situation. It is inconceivable that an educational establishment should be complicit in contracts of this kind.


We believe that the Students Union should not merely be a social club. It should, but that it must represent and press the demands of its members. It should press for better facilities and accommodation, and grants which are tied to the cost of living index, thus allowing for perpetual rises. Another disgraceful situation exists in the relationship between the Union and its staff. The Union, i.e. the students employ there people; porters and canteen staff, and pays them lower wages than the Social Security ‘subsistence’ level. As students we must also press for greater involvement and participation in all the University apparatus, thus ensuring that the voice of the students will be constantly heard.


  1. A University run by the people not by big business.
  2. An end to all military contracts – education not decimation!
  3. Open the files to all students.
  4. The resignation of Lord Salisbury and the election of a new Chancellor by mass franchise.
  5. A Union that:  a) Pays a decent living wage to all its staff;  b) Fights racialism not invests in it; c) Presses for better accommodation and realistic grants for all students.
  6. Greater student participation at all levels.
  7. The overthrow of capitalism starting with its servants in the University.

Short term reforms and demands can be fought and won, but in the long term our demands and struggles must be linked with the struggles of the working class to destroy capitalism and build a socialist state.

Proposer’s statement

Paul Thompson is 19. he was born and educated in Liverpool but so what. There are better reasons why we are proposing Paul Thompson for President. We are not really concerned whether he has the nicest smile or whether he is a “good chap”. We believe he should be judged by the policies he puts forward, not how many offficial positions he has held and made a fool of himself or lost his credibility.

He will not take lunch with Lord Derby in his mansion or dress up in ridiculous robes. His orders will come from the Students not from allies in high places. A President is there to press the demands of the Students and carry out the policies in his manifesto. This he will do with the best of his ability.

Ian Williams, Arts. Proposer.
John Williams, Science.
John Wyn Evans, Science.

Jackie Munton

It is my intention to ascertain the wishes of the majority and act upon them. I am prepared to attend “A” Society and Hall General Meetings frequently, to be questioned on my policies and work.


I favour the administration of the Guild by a representative Council. I am sure that the referendum in November 1969 was a definite indication that the majority of students also believe in a Council system. Councillors must become aware of their responsibilities. They must report back to the A’ Societies regularly in order to hear opinion and seek guidance. They must be prepared to be mandated on important iss~ues. Council will function efficiently with shorter, more frequent meetings.


  • Extend Sphinx Bar and cloakroom into the unallocated basement area. This is both practicable and cheap.
  • Provide coffee bars in poorly-served areas of the campus.
  • Redecorate the Liver Bar.
  • Ticket Office: should sell tickets for city entertainments
  • Explore the possibility of equipping a Car Bay, to enable students to overhaul and service their cars.
  • Provide Self-service Petrol Pumps on the Campus.


The Athletics Union and “B” Societies deserve a higher proportion of the Guild income. Dead and duplicate societies must not continue to waste money which should go to active societies. The efficiency of the Athletics Union would be improved by a greater degree of autonomy.


  • More first-year men deserve the opportunity of a place in Hall.
  • The suggestion of a register of suitable flat accommodation must be acted upon.
  • Custom-built or converted student flats must be provided in the immediate area of the University.


The Student Health Service is at present inadequate. There must be permanent doctors who can hold evening surgeries, both in the Health Centre and at Carnatic Sick-Bay. This will augment the present system of day-time surgeries.

The continued success of the Playgroup can be ensured by its extension to include day-nursery facilities for children under the age of three.

I believe all these policies to be practical. I promise that if I am elected, I will do my best to guarantee their success through efficient team-work.

Proposer’s statement

We ask you to vote for Jackie because we believe she has the qualities which a deputy President needs in the present Guild situation. Jackie already understands the workings of Guild, and its shortcomings. Earlier this session she worked in the Guild Affairs office, and later in Financial Affairs, gaining valuable knowledge and experience in both.

Those who know Jackie realise that she resigned when it became clear to her that Executive was no longer working together and she could no longer continue her valuable work as an ordinary member. She does have ideas, practical ideas, and is not interested in beating a political drum. She believes that the Guild is abused by mere political gamesmanship and that now the time has come for a period of construction and constructive progress.

Jackie has ability. Elected as a member of her departmental staff-student committee, she was re-elected this year. An ex-writer for Guild Gazette, her second story appeared in a national daily newspaper. Ideas, administrative experience, ability and, above all, reliability are Jackie’s qualities and these should be the qualities of next year’s Deputy President.

I Dexter, Esq. Arts

J N Johnson, Esq. Medicine

M A Kear, (Miss) Arts

RD Greenfield, Esq. Eng. Science

Pamela Rose

A porter employed by this Union takes home eleven pounds a week to support himself, a wife and two children! The canteen staff get even less!

So, what does this show? lt shows that this Guild, this University, are far from being the isolated academic community some people talk about. It shows that they are an integral part of this society, and show the same traits as all other big employers – to get as much work as possible for as little money as possible from their employees. If we continue further we will find what side the universities are on in this “free enterprise” society. The Guild has £27,000 invested, some of it in South Africa, from which every year we draw dividends – dividends extorted from sweated labour.

The University’s assets run into millions of pounds invested – but it won’t even disclose where!

In the running of this ”academic community”, the staff and students have no say; no say in the appointment of a Chancellor, like Salisbury, no say in how or when examinations are set, no say in whether or not anyone is expelled or sacked; where the assets are invested; whether or not files should be opened (remember Warwick!), and no say on whether the University should have accepted the Chemical and Biological Warfare research contracts we have from the Ministry of Defence.

These decisions are left to the University Council, a group of men whose list of directorships reads like the financial pages of The Times; whose honours include the cob-webby feudal relics of centuries – Lord-Lieutenants of Lancashire, Cheshire, etc, etc ad nauseam. The Council is virginally pure of any besmirch of working-class, even middle-class representation – let alone students!

There are no representatives of the people of Merseyside whose labour built the University, nor representatives of the students who study here; of the lecturers who teach here, of the porters and maintenance men who hold the place together.

This situation is not an anomaly, a product of “academic” tradition special to universities. It is a reflection, a part of, in fact, the system outside the university where 5% of the population own 80% of the wealth of the country; where these 5% control the economic and political power of the nation. In such a society it is only “fitting” that the bosses of industry should control the university. I firmly believe that this state of affairs can only be rectified by the overthrow of this system.

But we must not just wait for this, doing nothing. We must change the Students’ Union from an organisation providing free booze-ups and £70 dress allowance for bureaucrats to one which represents, and presses for, the demands of the students.


  1. A university run by the people not by big business.
  2. An end to all military contracts – education not decimation.
  3. Open the files to all students.
  4. The resignation of Lord Salisbury and the election of a new Chancellor by mass franchise.
  5. A Union that:  a) Pays a decent living wage to all its staff;  b) Fights racialism not invests in it; c) Presses for better accommodation and realistic grants for all students.
  6. Greater student participation at all levels.

Proposer’s statement

Why am I proposing Pamela Rose? Because Pam has never, and I am sure, will never, play the bureaucrat, will not pay overmuch attention to technicalities and tradition when something needs doing, nor will she spend her time defending her “power” against others -she will not indulge in the degrading in-fighting that characterised last year’s executive, and, if the other candidates are elected, seem likely to characterise next year’s as well!

I am sure that Pam realises that the only real power, the only worthwhile power, is that given by the full support of a large body of students.

Her tasks as Deputy President will not be to tell people what to do, but to do what people tell her.

Pamela, as a first year, has not held any official position, which can only be to her credit. For no one who has held office in recent years is untainted by the hurly-burlies, the fiascos and the incompetence of one executive after another.

That is why I am asking for, why I am confident of, your support for Pam Rose.

Phil Cohen, Arts, Proposer

Allun Pelleschi, Science

John Mortimer, Arts

Daphne Keen, Arts

Who holds the power? Senate and big business

This article, by Mike Smith, appears in the issue of Guild Gazette published today, the first day of the Senate House occupation:

The students of Liverpool University and the University authorities are at the moment in a state of conflict. First there was the issue of Lord Salisbury and connected with this the University investments. Then when Guild government collapsed it was the University that everyone was talking about: either as something we are independent from, or as somewhere we ought to go for advice.

Last week’s actions saw the culmination of this conflict between students and the University. ln this situation it would seem useful then to consider who exactly is the University. Not in the terms of the Charter under which everyone from the students to the Chancellor are theoretically part of the institution called the University of Liverpool, but in terms of who actually has the power, who in fact does make the decisions which affect us as part of the University.

The idea of a University as an academic community, as something apart from industry is shown up for the fantasy it is by an examination of who runs the University.

The Chancellor, the Marquess of Salisbury, already known as one of the most right wing members of the Conservative party, and his policies and investments in Southern Africa were discussed at considerable length in these pages in the last edition.

Below Lord Salisbury in the University hierarchy comes the Pro Chancellor Mr B Nelson CBE, JP.  Mr Nelson is a partner in Lithgow Nelson and Co, a firm of Chartered Accountants. He is sixty five years old and has been an official in the Chamber of Commerce both in Liverpool and nationally. He was on the BBC North Regional Council for five separate years between 1949 and 1957 and has been on the Board of Trade Consultative Committee on Companies since 1954. He is a part time member of MANWEB (the Merseyside and North West Electricity Board ) as in fact are several of the members of the higher University bodies. He was on the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board from 1951 to 1965 and has been a director of the Playhouse Theatre and of British Eagle until it went out of business a year or so ago. He is in fact a very prominent member of the Merseyside business community with interests in many diverse fields.

Of all the bodies and committees in this University theoretically the most important is the University Court. It has the power to alter the statutes and tell Council and Senate what to do. In fact if all the members of Court ever turned up to a meeting it would be bigger than any mass meeting of Guild ever held. A random selection of members would include Harold Wilson, in his capacity as member of Parliament for Huyton, both the Anglican Bishop and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, the Chancellor of every University in the country and every MP, a representative of every council and every education authority between here and Manchester. The Liverpool Trades Council, the Iron and Steel Institution both have representatives there and even (would you believe?) the President and Deputy President of Guild are members of Court.

The quorum for this thousand strong body is a mere 25 and under normal circumstances it only meets once a year so that if its theoretical power is absolute its practical power must be minimal.

Below Court come the University Council, and it is now that we are getting down to the people who make decisions on where the university is to put its investments, and, as last week, who will take over when a loophole has been found in the Guild Constitution.

Council consists of 41 people, it has a quorum of 10 and there are no students on it. Half the members are academics, usually professors, and the other half come through Court or County Councils and so forth.

The President is Mr Caroe, CBE, a 67 year old businessman and the Consul in Liverpool for both Denmark and Iceland. He is Chairman of the Trustee Savings Bank and on the International Savings Bank Institution. He is a director of Minton Ltd (a Stoke based Pottery firm), Maritime Insurance, and Richard Campbell Tiles. He belongs to the British Pottery Manufacturers Club.

Other notable businessmen on this body include Lord Leverhulme, whose trust owns a vast quantity of shares in the multi-million pound Unilever company, Mr Davies of ICI, and Mr D Dodds the Chairman of MANWEB.

R W Johnson, a director of Cammell Lairds, who is also on the Board of the English Steel Corporation, North Western Line Ltd, MANWEB, and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board is on Council. Another member of the Cammell Lairds Board,  Brigadier Toosey, is there too.  His other interests  include being Chairman of Liner Holdings, a director of Martins Bank (where the Guild account is kept), and of the Ocean Steam Ship Company.

These are the outsiders who make up half of Council and who have a very large part to play in the decision making process of this University. It would seem hardly surprising then that they are not prepared to dispense with University investments if they are in companies with interests in South Africa. For not only are they themselves businessmen but also the companies they belong to have in many cases themselves got subsidiaries or at least very strong business connections with South Africa. Cammell Lairds, for instance, have just won a contract to build a warship for the South African navy.

The body below the University Council and the one with which students are most familiar is Senate. This consists of all the professors of the University, the Deans of the faculties, the Vice Chancellor and the Pro Vice Chancellors, the librarian and co-opted people like Miss Tilston the warden of University Hall.

Typical of these academics is Pro Vice Chancellor Farmer, the father of the former Deputy President. He was educated at Liverpool and Cambridge and belongs to a multitude of Committees, most of them involved with his subject, in this case dentistry. But he also belongs to such peripheral organisations as the Board of Governors of the United Liverpool Hospitals and is the Dental secretary to the UGC.

Senate’s power is mainly to do with the academic work of the University and such issues as investments and getting rid of a Chancellor are outside its jurisdiction. Indeed, the only body competent to elect a Chancellor is Court and even they do not have the power to remove one once he has been appointed. The only way to get rid of him is to persuade him to resign and how you do this is what much of the present debate on Salisbury is about.

Privilege to work for University says VC.

The new Vice-Chancellor talking to Sandy Macmillan and Caroline Farmer at the official reception in Senate House

In this week’s Guild Gazette Mike Smith has an interview with the new Vice-Chancellor, Trevor Thomas:

In a world where status is shown by office size, Vice Chancellors come high on the list.  His office is large, thickly carpeted, and the chairs are many and comfortable.  Outside is a secretary who finds it necessary first to tell him who is there and why, then to reappear and after a tactful pause to stand in the doorway and make the formal introduction.  It is all calculated to make the visitor realise the man’s importance.  Behind this facade, behind the name at the head of more committees than the average person knows exists, there is a man.

His name is Trevor Cawdor Thomas, MA, LL B. He spent most of his career at Cambridge moving up the scale of influential administrative posts, until in 1960 he reached the position of Senior Bursar, at Cambridge’s second largest college, St John’s. How he became Vice Chancellor of Liverpool University is something only the men in Senate House know.

“One does not apply for the job of Vice Chancellor, one is invited”, he says.

Personally Mr Thomas seems warm, friendly and relaxed. But it is obvious that he is as experienced at handling interviewers as he is at sitting on committees. He knows just how much to commit himself, and which anecdotes to use to emphasise a point.

He expressed a concern for the problems facing students. He asked questions about grants, the cost of flats and the problems of accommodation near the campus. Yet it  was always how students can fit into the structure of the university.

He wanted to know about the structure commission, but he said, “It is a privilege for anyone to do something for the university.”  He did not like to talk in terms of rights. “Freedom” he said, “‘is freedom within the law, and if people want change then they can only achieve it by the proper means”.

Mr. Thomas was worried about the university becoming just a centre for commuters. Here as so many times he harked back to Cambridge, its colleges, its tutors and the atmosphere of an academic community, cut off from the world, and run by the dons.

He wants to communicate with students: “the channels are open” he said. Yet how to pass through those channels was another problem!

Mr Thomas does not wish to appear what he calls a demagogue or a public orator. He wonders whether students really want him to address a mass meeting. Personally he seemed more prepared to talk to small groups. “I don’t just want to meet the union officials,”  he commented, “but it’s those students who don’t feel as though they’re a part of the university. I want to meet them and show them that they are part of it”.

From the depths of Senate House, communications with students seemed to involve more than just walking down to the coffee bar. Universities are not just for academics, administrators and students. As Winston Barnes’ resignation as Vice Chancellor just over ago showed, the government, too, has an interest in them.

“T0 follow on from Dr Barnes after he had resigned over the principle of increasing government control would appear to be saying that you disagree with him,” Mr Thomas said, “but it’s not that at all”. He went on: “I go quite a long way with Dr. Barnes and I think we must all admire him for taking the stand he did.”

However, Mr Thomas did not seem to think that government control was excessive and when asked about contracts for such controversial research as Chemical and Biological warfare he commented: “I don’t think the government would ever force anyone to do research they didn’t want to. But when they say things like we want more doctors then I think we should do all we can to see that they get more doctors.”

Particularly on the issues of chemical and biological warfare, the Vice Chancellor first admitted that he did not know whether any research was going on here, but said that the problem was a moral one and one which he would need to think about. “On anything such as this the decision would not be mine alone but one of Senate,” he added.

This shows Mr Thomas’ view of his job as a whole. He thinks that while as a Vice Chancellor he is definitely a member of the establishment he does not see himself as part of a ruling class. ‘Primus inter pares’ is how he describes his relationship with the rest of the university’s decision making process.

The question of the relationship of the university to the local community is one which has been raisled many times over the last year. It is something which does not seem to be raised in Cambridge, where the Vice Chancellor came from but it is something on which he has definite views.

“When the decision to build the university here was taken the problem of expansion into an area of bad housing was immediately raised,”  he said. But he thinks that it was right to build here since it was the citizens of Liverpool who initially financed the university, and so the university should be built in Liverpool itself not out in the countryside around it.’

He sees the people who have to be moved for the university to expand as a problem: “When we buy up these houses we have to decide how much we are going to do for them,” he said. “We can leave them, but I think this would be wrong, or we can do as much as possible, but since the houses must come down soon, this too would be mistaken. The answer lies somewhere between the two.

As with everything else, he saw that he did not really have all the power. “The university’s money comes from the LEAs and the government – we cannot do what we want with it. It is right that this is so,” he concluded.

New Moon open later

Today’s Guild Gazette reports on changes at a venue very dear to the hearts (and stomachs) of SocSoc members:

Second year students will remember with some affection the New Moon Somali restaurant in Upper Stanhope Street, for those red-hot curries and discussions.  It fell from favour some time ago, due to a City Council order to shut at 11pm as some inconvenience was apparently being caused to local residents.

After much legal passing-the-buck, Judge Kilmer Brean decreed that the New Moon could remain open until 12:15 on Sunday to Thursday and 1am on Friday and Saturdays.

Now, however, everyone will be glad to know that this political hot-bed may be frequented until 1am on Sunday to Thursdays and 1:130am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Footnote from the future (2010)

The end of the Somali.

More wasted effort

This is the lead story in the current issue of Guild Gazette – the continuing saga of deadlock and resignations on Guild Council:

Once again Guild Council has been reduced to a farce.  This was not the fault of Council.  A vociferous handful of observers – not Guild councillors, but claiming to represent themselves – reduced it to this state.

Council began with a debate on the election of officers and Executive of Guild which was constantly interrupted by members of the Politics Society claiming they were entitled to have 64 representatives on Guild Council.

After two fruitless hours of argument it was decided in principle that people who wished to would be able to stand for President, Deputy President and for the three Vice-President posts on one ballot paper, preceded by two days of hustings.

Sandy Macmillan then gave a resume of the workings of the Structure Commission.  Jon Snow (observer) complained about lack of publicity for the forthcoming elections to the Structure Commission and demanded that Mr P Brown, VP for Guild Affairs, give an explanation. […]

The result of all this was that Jon Snow and Jackie Munton, the only two candidates, withdrew their nominations and Council agreed to postpone the election to give more time for nominations to be received.

Next, a noisy discussion followed on the observer status of Mr D Robertson, and the walkout of Messrs Cresswell, Davies, Allen and Graham from the Structure Commission.  A motion of censure was passed on the three members, Messrs Macmillan, Dodgson and Johnson, who chose to remain because they believed the interests of the Guild could best be served by continuing negotiations with the Senate.

Mr Swingler and Mr Black then instigated an argument over what right Council had to sit.  They claimed that the whole of Council resigned last term.  A ruling by Miss Farmer, chairing the meeting at this point, was challenged and Mr Brown took over […]