Correspondence with the Vice-Chancellor concerning Lord Salisbury’s resignation

The Professor Hair archive contains this original correspondence between the University authorities and Pete Cresswell, acting as representative for Students for a Democratic University.

This exchange follows the mass meeting of  Friday 6 February which voted for Lord Salisbury’s immediate resignation as Chancellor.

Dear Mr Thomas

At a mass meeting of students held in Mountford hall today, the following motions were passed:

  1. This meeting calls for the immediate resignation of Lord Salisbury as Chancellor of thuis University.
  2. This meeting calls on all academics who refused to attend Guild Ball to publicly dissociate themselves from the racialist principles of Lord Salisbury.
  3. This meeting calls upon the University to disclose all its investments and if these include any in southern Africa, to relinquish those investments immediately.

It was the wish of the meeting that these demands be discussed at the meeting of Senate on Wednesday February 10.We trust you will do your best to see that this is done and will reply immediately.
Yours sincerely
Peter Cresswell, Students for a Democratic University

A response came six days later from H Burchnell, the Registrar:

12 February 1970

Dear Sir

I understand that you are the secretary of a society known as the “Students for a Democratic University Society” which addressed an anonymous letter dated 6 February 1970 to the Vice-Chancellor, calling for  the immediate resignation of of the Chancellor of the University, for academics who refused to attend Guild Ball to publicly dissociate themselves from Lord Salisbury and that the University disclose all its investments, and if these include any in southern Africa, to relinquish them immediately.

You further asked that these matters should be discussed at the meeting of Senate on Wednesday 10 February.

The receipt of this letter was mentioned as a matter of information to the Senate at its meeting on WEdnesday 11 February.

The Senate, of course, has no power to deal with any of the matters you raised. The Chancellor of the University is appointed for life by the University Court; whether members of staff do or do not attend a Guild Ball is entirely a matter for individual memebrs of staff; and the Senate has no jurisdiction as to the investments of the University.

Yours faithfully

HH Burchnell, Registrar

Another letter from Mr Burchnell followed on 23 February 1970, in response to a further letter from Pete Cresswell which is not in the file :

When the Council met on Thursday 19 February, I read to the members your letters of 6 February and 16 February, as I had promised I would do. I also reported that a Petition had been received in support of these letters from a number of students.

As you know, the first two of the three points raised in your letter of 6 February are not within the jurisdiction of the Council.  So far as the third point – the University’s investment policy – is concerned, I have been asked to say that the Council, having considered your request, decided that no action should be taken arising on it.

Yours faithfully

HH Burchnell, Registrar

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