21st-25th May 1968

21st (Tuesday) BBC ‘Today’ interviews Albert Sloman. The Vice Chancellor has had no thought of resignation; he remains upbeat about the future of the University, and resolved to ‘crack down on any threat to freedom of expression’.

21st (Tuesday), both staff and students hold meetings to discuss the situation with exams. Students on the Common First Year of the Comparative Studies degree draft and circulate a memo detailing a motion rejecting their examinations (except on a purely voluntary basis), and calling for ‘a multiform structure of assessment’ and a further meeting the following morning. A petition to abolish second-year exams (again, except as a purely voluntary option) is circulated to second-year students, in light of the failure of the administration to heed the previous week’s demand that exams be postponed until at least a month after the reinstatement of the three rusticated students.

21st (Tuesday) BBC South East Regional News:

  • Exams will be held as usual in spite of boycott;
  • Boycott reaffirmed until rusticated 3 have records cleaned;
  • Requests for Butler and Alport to substantiate allegations of CP infiltration;
  • Announcer only – no i/vs.

21st (Tuesday) Tribunal Of Enquiry announced in Keith Trace circular, detailing membership (including a Barrister, to be appointed) and processes, including the gathering of written and oral evidence; the first meeting to consider written evidence is scheduled for 24th May. It seems that two documents from March (Dean of Students Alasdair MacIntyre’s brief memo from March 4th, and the revised disciplinary arrangements set down the same month) were also recirculated at this point, perhaps to provide a standard against which expressions of disgust (on either side) might be tempered.

21st (Tuesday) General Meeting hears proposals for a working party to formulate specific recommendations for democratic structural reform of the University’s governing bodies (Dorothy Smith, Department of Sociology); also more specific proposals for student representation in Department Meetings and on a remodeled, more democratic and representative Senate, in turn subordinated to the General Assembly as ultimate decision-making power (Mike Gonzales). A note at the foot of one copy of these proposals suggests the motions weren’t passed before the meeting adjourned to the bar. The meeting does, however, pass a motion by Gray Morris for the abolition of Part I and Progress Exams; Morris’ motion further suggests that third year students meet and formulate their own proposals for exams.

21st (Tuesday) Not all leaflets circulating around campus are entirely in earnest; participants in the events recall the influence of the Surrealist and Situationist Internationals. One leaflet proposing ‘Home Rule for Wilts’ is based on the conceit that the ancient people of the county of Wiltshire have suffered centuries of oppression at the hands of the colonising English; includes a reference to ‘nerve gas centres’, but also laments the neglected state of the roof of Stonehenge.

Locations: Box 14/Internal Documents/Ref 55 (CFY exams motion), Ref 56 (Tribunal announcement), Ref 57 (GM motions: Smith & Gonzales), Ref 58 (Morris on exams), Ref 58a (BBC SE Regional News transcript);

Box 15/Disturbances (second-year exams petition);

Box 16/Campus Events (‘Home Rule for Wilts’);

Box 17/May 1968 (CFY exams motion, Tribunal announcement, MacIntyre memo, revised Disciplinary Procedures, Smith and Gonzales motions, annotated);

Box 21 includes the BBC’s ‘Today’ and SE Regional News transcripts.

22nd (Wednesday) A motion from third year students is passed and circulated, calling for all Departments to meet with final-year students to agree a way forward (in terms of the relative weighting of their exams and coursework) that will limit any damage arising from the impact of the recent events on tuition. 

22nd (Wednesday) Senate meet for what would have been its first scheduled meeting following the rustications. A note is distributed through the student pigeonholes reminding readers that a General Assembly the previous week had passed a motion declaring this afternoon’s meeting to be an open one, and inviting all to attend. Information Officer Walter Evans reports that the matter was referred to the Registrar, and details the ‘laconic’ action taken in response.

Locations: Box 14/Internal Documents/Ref 59 (Evans’ report);

Box 17/May 1968 (third years exams memo, and note circulated through pigeonholes). 

23rd (Thursday) The Times, ‘Senate calm students’ unrest’, p. 3 (sub dated 22nd May): ‘Today students busily read up their subjects in an effort to catch up on lost time to meet the examination schedule.’ The same article nonetheless goes on to report on the motions circulating for the re-weighting or boycotting of exam papers.

23rd (Thursday) BBC ‘In the Public Eye’ (Radio 4, 9.30-10pm) extended interview with Albert Sloman including comments on on the recent events, the idea of a liberal university, student participation and disciplinary procedures

Location: Box 14/Internal Documents/Ref 60

Tribunal of Enquiry submission, May 1968.

24th Friday First meeting of the Tribunal of Enquiry Panel meets to discuss written evidence submitted on Dr Inch’s visit and the events leading up to the demonstration at the Chemical Society meeting.

24th Friday Acting Dean of the School of Social Studies Richard Lipsey circulates a memo to students reminding them that exams will take place as scheduled, and in accordance with the Rules of Assessment approved for the year the previous December; Lipsey points out that extenuating circumstances may be taken into account by the boards of examiners, and that any unexpectedly low drop in performance on the part of final year and MA students might result in the offer of an oral re-examination.

Locations: Box 9/Tribunal Written Evidence/Refs 1-79;

Box 17/May 1968 (Lipsey exams memo)

25th Saturday Assistant Registrar and Tribunal Secretary Robin Dixon writes to Lords Alport and Butler, requesting clarification of their comments in the media over the previous weekend about Communist infiltration in student unrest, and asking for any  evidence they might offer to support such claims (see 18th, 20th May, above); Butler’s response is placatory, while Alport remains persistently outraged at the request, even following Lord Gifford’s subsequent personal endorsement of Dixon’s request in a letter dated 31st May; Alport nonetheless offers to explain to a small delegation of students ‘the facts of political life as I see them’.

25th Saturday BBC ‘Outlook’ interviews Rev. Malcolm France, Anglican Chaplain at the University, who outlines the recent events as he sees them: France points specifically to the lack of channels for young voices to be heard at a wider societal level, and the need for a debate about the nature and function of universities.

Locations: Box 9/Tribunal of Enquiry Submissions/ToE Ref 52 (Dixon and Butler), Ref 63 (Dixon and Gifford to Alport);

Box 14/Internal Documents/Ref 61 (BBC ‘Outlook’), Ref 62 (Dixon-Butler correspondence).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s