It is reported in your issue of March 3 that Sir Derman Christopherson, chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, has reaffirmed, in a letter to the National Union of Students, that “the political opinions and affiliations of students and staff are no business of a university.”
Might I, as Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, humbly submit that the same privilege should properly be extended also to Chancellors.
The Liverpool Echo today reports that Lord Salisbury has responded to the charges made against him in an article written for Guild Gazette.
‘Lord Salisbury decided not to attend the Student Union annual dinner and dance on January 30 when he learned that some 200 students opposed to his political views planned to demonstrate against his attendance.’
This paper was presented at the SocSoc meeting today.
PROPOSALS TO SOCSOC MEETING FRIDAY 27 Feb 1970
It would seem that Soc Soc once again has been overwhelmed by the course of events rather than vice versa: as fast as we have analysed, categorised, and rationalised one development another has come along and rendered it all so much time wasted.
We must regain the initiative and with it the ability to plan in advance a coherent campaign of action. Examine the following demands
Lord Salisbury’s resignation.
Public dissociation from his views.
Information on investments.
Recognition of Committee of 6.
Alteration of ordinances etc. (and possibly by the time this is discussed):
Student representation on ‘joint committee’.
Some claim concerning Warwick files.
Let the V-C come and speak to the students.
Now where is this constant pestering of the University getting us, and how do these demands fit into the general plan of SocSoc? Obviously they don’t fit at all for two reasons:
a) The demands are not contingent one upon the other.
b) There is no general plan.
However, whether we like it or not these demands and their references have become issues and to a large extent we are behoven to work within them.
It would appear unsatisfactory to drop some demands and to work with just a few.
It would be a complicated and clumsy campaign that attempted to carryall these demands whilst seeking to keep their limits clearly defined (eg, Monday – Senate picket – Racism; Tuesday – Senate picket – Warwick files-etc, etc.)
The obvious need is some way to synthesize these demands into one campaign. Now it is not difficult to see that their common denominator is the University administration. However, if we are just interested in presenting demands to Senate then we may just as well write then all down on a card and pop them in the post (which is effectively what we have been doing to date). And yet if our demands are to be a means to something else then there is a neatness and flexibility about an open-ended campaign in that it could absorb any further developments without unbalancing the whole effort.
The visit of Salisbury saw the initial development of a planned campaign which was totally disrupted by the Guild collapse – consequent chaos – Warwick files, etc. The time has cone for a reappraisal and the formulation of a new plan.
That the stated short term aim of SocSoc be the setting up of a student inquiry/commission/tribunal/investigation into the power structure of the university and its manifestations within and without the campus. Put differently, that it examines exactly how a university works.
(as an absolute prerequisite for 1.) We demand that the university disclose all information at its disposal, including Senate/Council/Court minutes; all files whatsoever; University accounts, investments. (see note*) The University administration makes its position viz approval/disapproval/neutrality absolutely clear on the following: Salisbury, Racism, Committee of 6, etc.
That demands 1. and 2. are replied to in writing not less than seven days after receipt.
Plans for some form of direct action at the end of the seven days and for a full scale mobilisation of all possible support during the week for the confrontation at the end of it.
Also that in the event of a failure of full scale mobilisation, contingency plans for anonymous direct action be made (in the hope that this would be contributory to later mass action).
It has been suggested that a ‘charter of demands and critique of the University structure’ be formulated and presented. However:
The problem with a critique and concluding demands is that the administration’s reaction is likely to be: ‘You say that the situation is A,B,C, but in fact it is X,Y,Z and therefore your demands are not applicable’. Now whilst we may be fairly sure that the situation is not X,Y, Z, unless we have had previous access to the information we won’t be able to show up the lie.
The idea has been floating around since the beginning of term and yet nothing has been done and the present situation does not seen to be one in which running on the spot while someone prepares a charter is going to be beneficial to the cause.
*Whilst this demand would appear fantastic, it nay be argued that in many ways it is perfectly negotiable and contains a viable means of leaving Senate House, if we ever got in. Its very open-endedness allows the probability that if the Admin. are prepared to concede anything then it will be covered under this demand (we can surely agree upon some concession of information which, if we are in need of an excuse to leave, will suffice). If they are not prepared to concede anything at all we can leave because we have just set fire to the building.
Engels: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific
A seminar on the relevance of this Marxist text today
led by Mike Smith
7.30 March 4 McAusland Lounge
the text can be obtained from the Soc-Soc bookstall in the foyer
E Mandel on American capitalism today
A seminar on Mandel’s analysis of capitalism, based on article in New Left Review 54
7.30 Wednesday March 11 McAusland Lounge
N.L.R available from the Arts Library or from Soc-Soc bookstall
Lenin’s ‘Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder
A seminar on the text’s relevance today
led by Dave Robertson
7.30 Wednesday March 18 McAusland Lounge
text available from Soc-Soc bookstall
This report provides an account of the proceedings at today’s meeting of Socialist Society, which was largely concerned with organisational issues.
The meeting was called in order to discuss and take decisions upon Discussion Document l (pink sheet with proposals for restructuring). It had been asked at the last meeting that reports be made concerning the financial and material assets of S0cSoc and the possibility of obtaining a room in the Union for S0cSoc use.
We were assured that S0cSoc’s finances were nil,if not negative.
There is a duplicator on permanent loan from Ellam’s,but we have only been able to use it one week out of the year due to breakdowns and it is currently going back for repairs. There is an operating silkscreen at 3 Sunnyside , Liverpool 8, which S0cSoc has access to but does not own. There is miscellaneous poster-making material in B53.
There appeared to be no possibility of gaining a permanent site for S0cSoc in the Union. After discussion it was agreed to establish a permanent geographical site at 66 Canning Street, in the basement, and that S0cSoc should pay the residents for electricity & heating.
The following groups with fairly specific functions as a first attempt at formal organisation were agreed to:
CONVENORS: responsible for calling meetings & drawing up agendas – not chairmen – Andy Black, Sue Rossinger, Danny Fishman. ~
TREASURER: responsible for finances as per section vii) of the pink sheet – Nev Bann.
SECRETARIAL & NEWSLETTER GROUP: responsible for gathering information for the news-sheet & publishing it – out of which will hopefully grow a S0cSoc journal – Gerry Cordon, James Rees, Tricia Brown, Andy Black, Rob Evans, Dave Jenkins
COMMUNICATIONS & PROPAGANDA: poster-making and to some extent leaflets – all will have to help in these tasks but this group should ensure that everybody is able to gain skills to perform the various tasks – Mo O’ Sullivan, Frank Milner, Mike Smith, Mike Keating
BOOKSTALL: responsible for maintaining S0cSoc bookstall in the foyer, to stock any book on request from members – Nuala Ballinger, Dave Harvey, Penny Wilde
PERMANENT INFORMATION FILES: setting up & maintaining – the residents of 66 Canning Street (Tricia and Allan) and James Rees
Delegate to MSSF: Nigel Varley
Industrial liaison: Martin Yarnit
C.A.R.D (Campaign Against Racial Discrimination) liaison – Nigel Varley
Theory seminars will be held Wednesdays at 7.30 pm in the McAusland Lounge. The texts for the first three meetings will be:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by F Engels for March 4th ( opening paper by Mike Smith- the pamphlet
should be available from the S0cSoc bookstall).
Article by E. Mandel on the USA in New Left Review 54 (copy in the Arts library, should be available
off the bookstall -any offers for an opening paper? contact one of the convenors) for March 11th.
Left-Wing Communism an Infantile Disorder by Lenin (again undoubtedly in the library and off the bookstall) for March 18th (paper from Dave Robertson)
The other weekly meeting of S0cSoc will be held on Fridays at 12.30 in the McAusland lounge This meeting will usually be dealing with S0cSoc campaigns both inside (racism, the Guild, files) and outside the university.
The functional groups established should begin to meet and work as groups as soon as possible. It should be emphasised that the groups are never exclusive and will probably all need help.
CLEARING OUT THE CELLAR AT 66 CANNING ST AND BEGINNING TO BRING TOGETHER ALL DISPERSED INFORMATION FOR THE PERMANENT FILES: Saturday the 28th at 3 pm.
On Thursday about 40 people picketed Senate House to demand the resignation of Lord Salisbury as Chancellor after accusations of racialism. A petition containing over 1000 signatures was handed in.
Officials entering and leaving the building were heckled and though the Vice-Chancellor was invited to meet the demonstrators, he politely declined, but said in a message that he would consider the petition.
Another item in the current issue highlights concern over racism in the University:
Pantosfinx racialist joke banned
The Executive of Liverpool College of Commerce has banned the sale of Pantosfinx because of a poem included called ‘England, my England’. The poem deals with immigrants who come to Britain to sign on the National Health.
Other colleges are to consider banning the magazine for this reason and Panto stands to lose several hundred pounds.
There is also strong pressure within the University to ban the poem, either by obliterating it or removing the page on which it is printed.
The poem is being sent to the Race Relations Board to see if legal action can be taken against Panto Committee, who do not consider the poem racialist.
Following the mass resignation of the Guild Council Executive last week, Guild Gazette has today rushed out a special issue with details of the dramatic events that have followed:
Mass meeting elects six-man committee to run Union
At a mass meeting last Tuesday [10 February], called after the mass-resignation of the Executive of Guild Council the previous Monday evening [9 February], it was decided by the Guild of Undergraduates to set up a “caretaker committee” of six people, who were eIected at the meeting.
So many students attended the meeting that the Lounge Hall and the Mountford Hall balcony had to be opened and when the meeting began at 5.00, there were an estimated 1,500 students present.
Mr John Aspinall, chairman of the meeting, opened it by asking Mr Richard Davies, last year’s President, to address the students by outlining the events which had taken place at Guild Council the previous evening.
Mr. Davies spoke lucidly, explaining why Executive had resigned, and went on to explain the situation which existed at that time. He emphasised the autonomous nature of the Guild Council, and said that the only influence held by the University over the Guild was in a committee which annually inspected its accounts.
He added that it was now necessary to elect some governing body, as Guild Council had been rendered inquorate by the resignation of Executive, and the Guild had no governing body.
Mr Aspinall then opened the discussion to the floor, asking for suggestions as to how the Union should be governed, on a short-term basis, and asked for a “peaceful and unemotional debate”.
At this point Mr P Cresswell proposedthat the meeting elect a committee of six to perform two functions:
To keep the Union running, with the aid of Mr James E. Brown, the Permanent Secretary and Bursar.
To negotiate with the Joint Union Management Committee (JUM).
He proposed that this committee should be responsible to a Mass Meeting which would be held in one weeks time, Tuesday, 17th February.
lt was pointed out by the chairman that he had received notice from the University assuring students that all wages, etc, would be paid during the period of instability .
Mr Peter Brown then spoke, indicating a petition which he claimed had already received some two thousand signatures, which requested the appointment of a President, Deputy President and Executive officers, the immediate organisation of elections and the desire for a representative University, reaffirming the result of last term’s referendum which had showed the desire for Guild Council [not mass meetings] to be sovereign body in the University.
He went on to point out that some legal body must be elected immediately to preserve the financial autonomy of the Guild, and he emphasised that any member of a committee of six would not have the legal power to sign a cheque.
At this Mr Sandy Macmillan, ex-President of Guild, leapt to his feet and, addressing the meeting, said, looking at Mr. Brown, “now I know why the vote of no confidence applies to Executive”. He went on to emphasise the financial autonomy of the Guild, and added that somebody must be elected to prevent interference by the University in Guild affairs. He finished his speech saying, “I’ve never taken part in a revolution before in my life, this is quite fun!”
A plea was then made to make Mr Cresswell’s suggestion a motion, and that a vote should be taken upon it. There then followed a short period of haggling, when Mr D Christie proposed that an interim Executive should be elected. Opposition to his proposal centred around the fact that the committee would be responsible to the Mass Meeting to be held on Tuesday 17 February.
Another speaker, in favour of Mr Christie’s proposal suggested that several people were trying to “twist the referendum result”. He pointed out that the referendum plainly showed the feelings of the student body as a whole, and suggested that the old system be restored immediately.
The chairman then decided to vote on the two amendments on the motion which embodied Mr Cresswell’s suggestion of the committee of six responsible to the Mass Meeting. The first amendment, which proposed that a committee be elected which would have power only to release cheques and would immediately negotiate with JUM to organise Presidential Elections, was unanimously defeated.
The second, Mr Christie’s amendment proposing that the meeting should elect a new executive was marginally carried.
After complex discussion over quorum figures, during the course of which it transpired that a Mass Meeting quorum was 300, Mr Spruce, last year’s VPGA, spoke, emphasising the “boring nature of Mass Meetings”. He went on to suggest that a time limit should be fixed on the committee, and that the Guild should get back to the old system as soon as possible.
In reply to Mr Spruce, Mr Richard Davies pointed out “the crucial nature of this meeting”, adding that he could no longer go on saying “yes” and that he could not tolerate a return to the situation where Council ruled the Guild alone.
This was greeted by cheers and clapping from the students. It was then decided to move to a vote on the motion that a committee of six people should be elected, including a chairman, a Treasurer, a Vice President for Internal Affairs and a Vice President for Guild Affairs. The motion was clearly carried, and the elections began.
There were three nominations for Chairman: Sandy Macmillan, Gavin Graham and Tim Shuttleworth.
Voting was by show of hands and after the first vote had been taken, marginally favouring Mr Macmillan, a recount was demanded and Mr Shuttleworth stood down.
On the second vote Mr Macmillan was elected Chairman of the committee by four votes only over Mr Graham. There was no recount.
The rest of the elections were then carried out, Mr Graham being elected Treasurer; Mr D Christie, Vice-President for Internal affairs; Mr P Cresswell, Vice-President for Guild Affairs; and Messrs R Davies and O Swingler, Ordinary Committee Members.
Authorities refuse to recognise committee
The Committee of Six announced last Thursday at an Open Meeting to discuss policy that Mr. P Kemp, the Returning Officer, and the Bank holding the Guild account, refused to accept their legality, despite being elected by a Mass Meeting of one thousand people, the previous Tuesday.
Mr R Davies said that Mr Kemp was only prepared to accept the letter of the constitution and not its spirit. Mr Macmillan stated that there was a dilemma over what to do next, concerning the government of this university. He added that if the only way to get out of this situation was to approach the university for advice, then we may have to do this. Mr Davies replied that this was unacceptable and that Mr Macmillan and Mr Graham should go and find out what the position of the bank is going to be.
It was also announced that on Wednesday night there was a meeting between the Permanent Secretary and Bursar, Mr James E Brown and the secretaries of the standing committees which was convened solely to discuss financial matters. It was also stated that the university will pay the staff in the union and account for any over the counter deals.
Mr Robertson suggested that perhaps we could keep the takings of the union, which amount to around £1,000 a day and pay the staff out of this. However, Mr Davies said this was impracticable because the students do not have enough people available to administer this, and Mr Macmillan added that the difficulty came when the bills come in at the end of the month. Mr Davies then put forward a proposal calling for Mr Graham and Mr Macmillan to put their names to a poster announcing the forthcoming mass meeting and to inform the bank of what is happening. He added that there was no need for fear of what the bank may say because the bank needs the union as much as the union needs the bank.
The meeting ended when there was agreement on the proposal that the Chairman and Treasurer and Mr James E Brown, call an official mass meeting for Tuesday and this meeting to be concerned with electing a chairman and treasurer authorised to sign cheques and hand out cash, along with four others to form a commission. The second part of this proposal called for a mass franchise of the Guild of Undergraduates to elect a body to run the Guild until July 31st.
The sequence of events
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9th
At Guild Council in the Abercromby Room, the President and Executive resign after a vote of No Confidence is passed. An informal meeting of one hundred people gathers in the President’s office to discuss the situation, and it is decided that the Guild of Undergraduates must be consulted.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10th
The news is announced in Gazette and it is announced that a Mass Meeting is to be held at 530 p.m. that evening. At the Mass Meeting a six-man committee is elected to run the Union until the following Tuesday when a “caretaker” government can be elected and the whole situation can be given a fuller analysis.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11th
In an interview with the “Daily Post”, Mr. Macmillan says that the six-man committee will not be recognised and no cheques can be signed Senate is picketed in protest over Lord Salisbury’s failure to resign as Chancellor after accusations of racialism.
Standing Committee Secretaries are called together by Mr J E Brown, the Union’s Permanent Bursar, to discuss the financial situation. A compromise is reached after consultation with the committee of six.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12th
The Union is still continuing to run as normal as far as catering and the bar are concerned. The committee of six visit Mr Kemp to discuss his making the following Tuesday’s Mass Meeting legal by calling one to coincide with it. Mr Kemp refuses to do this.
The committee of six meets in the Abercromby Room and the meeting is made open to anyone who wants to attend, whilst an agenda for the next Mass Meeting is formulated.
This is the Daily Post reporting this morning on the dramatic events of the last 24 hours:
University student Mr Sandy Macmillan, who resigned on Monday as President of Liverpool University’s Guild of Undergraduates, was returned last night as head of a student caretaker government – by a margin of 4 votes. […]
Mr Macmillan, aged 23, said: “The caretaker government will have no power at all. We have no power to sign cheques and this will make financing of the Guild a difficult task. The Guild is more or less in a state of limbo until we have a president.” […]
Mr Macmillan was elected chairman last night only after a revote and a recount. Mr Gavin Graham, who came second in the election for chairman, was elected treasurer. Peter Cresswell, David Christie, Oliver Swingler and Richard Davies, a former student president, were also elected to the committee. They will meet for the first time today.