Report of the Board of Discipline

This is the official report of the Board of Discipline, as circulated to Senate and academic staff.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL

Report of Board of Discipline

The Board is established under Ordinance 16 (Discipline) and its procedures are governed by Regulations, from which an extract is quoted below.

This Ordinance and these Regulations were approved in the Autumn of 1969 following a Report by a Joint Committee of Senate and Council which maintained close contact with the Guild of Undergraduates during the course of its deliberations and twice met representatives of the Guild. The final recommendations of the Joint Committee were made after full discussion with the President of the Guild, who had previously had an opportunity of discussing them with the Executive Committee of Guild Council. (Senate 5.1 1.69. Minute 98; Council 13.11.69. Minute 26)

The Board of Discipline met on 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th April, 1970, to consider charges preferred by the Registrar and referred to it by the Advisory Board against ten students, arising out of the occupation of the Senate House by students on 9th March and succeeding days.

The membership of the Board was as follows:

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Williams (Chairman), Pro-Vice-Chancellor Rosenhead*, Professor Hartles*, Professor Norbury, Mrs Irene Collins, Dr RPN Jones and (for 6th April only) Professor Stock*.

(*Appointed by the Vice-Chancellor as deputies for members of the Board unable to serve.)

The basic charge against all ten students was of  ”conduct detrimental to the discharge of the duties of the University” in that on 9th March and succeeding days the students concerned “occupied the Senate House and excluded the staff of the University with the intention of hampering the discharge of those duties”. In addition, in the case of two students, the charge also referred to specific occasions on which they had themselves been instrumental in excluding named individuals.

The Regulations relating to the procedure of the Board of Discipline provide in part as follows:

(ii) The student who is the subject of the charge shall receive a written notice from the Registrar:

(a) giving a clear specification of the charge or charges;

(b) calling on him, on at least ten days notice, to appear before the Board of Discipline;

(c) informing him that he may call such witnesses as he may think fit, and requiring him to inform the Registrar ln advance of the date of the meeting of the Board of Discipline of the names of his witnesses;

(d) informing him that he may be accompanied at the meeting of the Board of Discipline by his tutor or other member of the academic staff or by a friend, any one of whom may conduct the case on his behalf if he so desires;

(e) informing him that he should, in any event, approach his tutor for his advice in the matter;

(f) informing him that if he wishes to admit the charge he may d.o so in writing to the Registrar, in which event he will be required to attend the meeting of the Board of Discipline for consideration of what penalty if any he should incur, and that at that hearing he may make representations on his own behalf and shall be entitled to call witnesses and to have present his tutor, or other member of the academic staff, or a friend to speak on his behalf;

(g) informing him that in determining any penalty the Board of Discipline may receive evidence about and take into account his academic record and any charge or record of previous misconduct on the part of the student.

(iii) lf the student denies the charge, the case against the student shall be presented first and then the case for the student. Both parties shall be entitled to cross-examine witnesses, and both parties shall be allowed to make a final address, the student or the person presenting his case having the right to speak last.

(iv) The person presenting the case against the student, the student, any person accompanying the student and all witnesses shall withdraw when the Board considers its decision.

(v) If’ the Board finds a charge proved or it is admitted, the student himself or the person presenting his case or both shall be heard on the issue of the penalty before it is determined or sentence pronounced.

ln addition, the Board ruled that the barrister who was to present the case against the students should not be permitted to cross-examine the students and the Board arranged that copies of the written statement by witnesses, containing information which was likely to form part of the case against the students, should be sent to them ten days before the first hearing was due to begin in order that they might prepare a proper defence.

Notice of the University’s decision that the case against them would be presented by a barrister was sent to the students concerned well in advance of the hearings and the students were also informed that they could themselves be legally represented if they so wished. In the event, each student chose to present his own case, although all exercised their right to be accompanied by a friend, who was in some cases a fellow student, in others a member of staff and in others a member of the clergy.

Since in some cases the students charged had notified their intention to call as many as twenty or thirty, and in one case as many as forty-five, witnesses, the Board ruled that they would hear only such witnesses for either side as they were persuaded could give evidence relevant to the facts in each case.

The Board found all ten of the students guilty of the charges brought against them and imposed the following penalties:

  • One student who, personally, forcibly prevented a senior officer of the University from reaching his office, was expelled from the University;
  • two students were suspended from the University with effect from noon on Saturday, 11th April, 1970, until the beginning of the Summer Term, 1971;
  • seven students were suspended from the University with effect from noon on Saturday 11th April, 1970, until the beginning of the Summer Term, 1972.

In announcing the penalties to the students concerned, the Chairman of the Board of Discipline said:

“In coming to its decisions and determining the appropriate penalties the Board of Discipline took the view that the students who came before it had made the cardinal error of deciding that because they felt keenly on certain matters, they were entitled to take forcible action and place themselves above the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations of the University.

The Board has not attempted to act as an arbiter on any social or political.views held by these students but to judge them solely in relation to those of their actions which were detrimental to the discharge of the duties of the University.

The Board of Discipline does not accept the submission that responsibility for the action of individual students rested necessarily on the occupying group as a whole. The Board is of the opinion that each individual student is a free agent and must accept responsibility for his own actions.”

R. BUTLER

Secretary to the Board of Discipline

April 1970.

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