This is the official statement from the Registrar, presumably circulated to Senate and academic staff, on the response of the University in the cases of those students who signed the ‘equal responsibility’ statement. For more information on the background and preparation of Registrar’s statement go here.
THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL
1 . Now that the Board of Discipline and the Board of Appeal have completed their hearings of the cases of 10 students who were concerned in the recent occupation of the Senate House, it has been possible to consider the position of the other 171 students who, on the conclusion of the occupation, wrote to the Vice Chancellor stating that they were each ‘equally responsible for any action taken in accordance with the wishes of the corporate body of the occupation’.
2. It cannot be emphasised too strongly, in view of charges of ‘victimisation’ that have been made, that the statements from these 171 students were sent to the Vice-Chancellor after notice of disciplinary proceedings had been served on the only 10 students against whom the University had evidence both of identity and of participation in the occupation of the Senate House. When charges were brought against the 10 students there was no evidence against any other student of identity and participation as distinct from mere physical presence at some time in the Senate House. Evidence of mere physical presence did not enable a charge to be brought since it could be readily explained, eg. by the fact that those responsible for the occupation had invited all students into the Senate House to discuss their views. The University did not – as has been alleged – select 10 students from some 200, but charged every student against whom there was, at the time, evidence of identity and participation in the occupation.
3. On 15th April I sent a letter to the 171 students asking them whether they intended by their statement to the Vice-Chancellor to admit that they were guilty of the charge of which the 10 students had been found guilty by the Board of Discipline, namely, that they were guilty of conduct which was detrimental to the discharge of the duties of the University. I have received 138 replies to my letter.
4. 15 students, whose replies either indicated that they regretted their part in the occupation or clearly revealed that it had been less than that of other students, were informed at once that no proceedings would be taken against them. The majority of those who replied refused to make any statement until formally charged.
Others denied that their statement was an admission of guilt. Only one student admitted that he was guilty of the charge.
5. It is understood that, at the hearings before the Board of Appeal, it was claimed that the statement submitted to the Vice-Chancellor was merely a ‘solidarity statement’ and not an admission of guilt. Although the University does not entirely accept this view of the statement, it does recognise that, having regard to the circumstances in which it was written, it may not have been intended to be an admission of a disciplinary offence as distinct from an expression of support for the occupation. It is in these circumstances that it has been decided not to proceed against the 171 students, in almost all of whose cases the statement is the only available evidence.
6. It is also understood that, during the course of the proceedings before the Board of Discipline and the Board of Appeal, 9 of the 171 students gave evidence on behalf of those charged and, in so doing, made statements which might be thought to indicate that they themselves had interfered with the discharge of the duties of the University. However, it is not intended to take advantage of the evidence so obtained.
7. In all the circumstances, therefore, it has been decided that no disciplinary action should be taken against the students concerned, and each student has been informed of this decision.
H. H. BURCHNALL,
26 May, 1970.