Documents collected by T. P. Hughes, Department of Physics, and spread over two folders labeled, respectively, ‘Disturbances‘ and ‘Revolutions‘. There is some overlap between the contents of the two, and many of the documents relating to the May 1968 events are also held in other boxes in the archive, as indicated in the list below.
Documents in both folders cover: the May events; developments around university decision-making, disciplinary structures, and student representation in response to the growing campus unrest of the moment; the campaign against the war in Vietnam; and a selection of cuttings from the local and national press at the time.
The ‘Disturbances’ folder also includes some material from the student campaign against the war in Biafra, dating from December 1968, and a couple of miscellaneous items from that same term. The ‘Revolutions’ folder holds student society publications from the time, as well as further materials on the occupations of the Computing and Printing Centres in January 1969, on the ‘Festival of Revolution’ the following month, and on developments in student politics and protest at other campuses, especially the London School of Economics.
Documents circulating around the University to do with May 1968 events
- Monday 13th May General Meeting invitation (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 16).
- Busfield, Butterfield and Smith call for moratorium and dialogue circulated 13th May (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 14, Ref 16b).
- Copy of Registrar’s ‘Incidents at Wivenhoe House’, with rebuttal and alternative account by staff members Wexler, Mitchell, and Postgraduate students Busfield and Mullins (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 16c).
- ‘You may think nothing has been happening over the weekend. You’re wrong!’ (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 16d).
- Memo from Registrar (13.05.68) re General Assembly (Monday May 20th) requisitioned for students to hear Vice Chancellor’s report on the three rustications, and to discuss implications in terms of attempts to formulate a Code of Conduct (Box 17/May 1968).
- Missive from Paris students, (undated, May 1968).
- Senate report (16.05.68) on Wednesday 15th meeting, early termination of exclusion by default, and establishment of Committee of Enquiry (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 43).
- Committee of Enquiry memo re membership and May 20th meeting to establish credentials (18.05.68, King) (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 49).
- Memo from Registrar (20.05.68) on Senate’s suggestion to limit activities of Committee of Enquiry, to appoint a counsel or subcommittee to carry out the enqiry, and to focus on question of freedom of speech as in paragraph 2 of Senate’s May 16th statement (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 50).
- Memo from Registrar (20.05.68): reminder that exams will go ahead as scheduled, starting June 4th. Staff reminded to make up for any lost teaching/instruction (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 51).
- Memo from eight staff members (20.05.68) inviting all staff to informal discussion (on 21.05.68) of Senate’s decision to carry on with exams as scheduled (Box 17/May 1968).
- Keith Trace circular re Tribunal of Enquiry (21.05.68): composition, procedures, and canvassing written submisisons (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 56).
- ‘Why we will not take C.F.Y. Comparative Studies progress exams’ from summer term 1968, to do with University decision to hold exams as normal and especially Blondel’s changing of questions (‘yesterday’, i.e. May 30th) once he heard rumours that some exam papers in Comparative Studies had been leaked to students in advance (Box 17/May 1968).
- Petition for Senate from second year students with threat to boycott exams (unless specifically requested for individual students); states petition will be presented if 60% of second-years sign it.
- Keith Trace circular (11.06.68) on Tribunal report publication, also canvassing agreement to/dissent from three principles of free speech (see Box 8, which also has extant responses, the Tribunal report, and the report on free speech published by the Committee of Enquiry on June 24th).
Selection of materials relating to decision making and disciplinary structures, especially issues around student representation and life in the residential Towers (see also papers of Working Party on a Code of Conduct in Box 12 and Box 13)
- Registrar circular (11.10.68) announcing extraordinary General Assembly meeting October 24th to discuss decision-making structures of the University. (See also Atkinson, Rudd et al. 21st October working document for GA in Box 17/May 1968; Red Letter #4 and ‘GM Special’ in ‘Revolutions’ folder in this box).
- University Newsletter 103a: Special Issue (22.10.68), ‘Student Representation within the Decision-making Structure of the University’; canvasses written or oral submissions to the Senate Group on Student Representation.
- Hughes’ submission on Decision Making Structures.
- Open letter to Vice Chancellor (23.10.68) copied to all members of General Assembly from Michael Lane (Sociology). Lane is disappointed not to have received an invitation to the extraordinary General Assembly scheduled for October 24th, and horrified to have realised he and certain other members of staff aren’t technically members of the GA.
- Memo (29.10.68) from David Laidler, Michael Parkin and Jim Richmond (Economics) to Hughes, requesting he canvas for signatures on attached petition to reconvene October 25th General Assembly as soon as possible, as (it is claimed) a number of Economists had been disappointed not to be able to put their views across. Hughes notes, ‘Not circulated – Laidler was unaware of Freeman’s reconvening petition.’
- Further memo from Laidler to Hughes requesting he disregard his earlier co-signed letter/petition about the General Assembly (31.10.68).
- ‘Action Resolution’ calling for more freedoms in the Towers and for solidarity with cleaners (autumn 1968).
- ‘Working Party on a Code of Conduct’ (09.12.68) Senate-approved recommendations (inc. input from Student Affairs Committee) on terms of reference, membership, and procedure.
- Memo for General Meeting (10.12.68) on Towers Discipline: series of interim measures, charging Towers Court and Tower Committees (rather than the Dean of Students, as had formerly been the case) with handling breaches of discipline not serious enough to be referred to the Disciplinary Committee.
Material relating to anti-Vietnam war demonstration in Colchester, October 23 1968 (see also Box 21 for correspondence with the press on reporting of this event)
- ‘Vietnam comes to Colchester’ (25.10.68) on Wednesday 23rd Demonstration, promising another march the same day.
- ‘1st Declaration’ of the ‘October 24th Movement’ deploring arrests at Colchester anti-Vietnam war demonstration, and demanding retraction of any proceedings.
- In Brief (Liberal Student Council bulletin, 25.10.68) inc. text of letter sent by Chair Ian Brodie to the Home Office protesting arrests.
- Very brief undated memo instructing Essex delegates to October 27th (London) demonstration where to meet in the capital.
- ‘Two Ways to Help Vietnam?” (29.10.68) letter to Chair of Students’ Council intended for organisers of Colchester anti-Vietnam war demonstration, from David Britton, Chair of Colchester Vietnam Campaign; Britton deplores the rudeness and militancy of the marchers towards local residents which has, he claims, ‘queered the pitch for us in Colchester for a long time to come.’
- Appeal (November 1968) for financial support for 40 Essex students arrested during anti-Vietnam war demonstration in Colchester the previous month.
Material related to the Biafra campaign, December 1968
- Memo (10.12.68) from General Assembly of Students’ Council (09.12.68) about motion on Biafra, appealing to the government but opposing calls for a student strike.
- Call for a student strike and two days of activities(11-12.12.68) focusing on Biafra and Britain’s arms trade with Nigeria, inc. mobilization in London 12.12.68.
- Flyer (week of 12.12.68) deploring Sloman’s lack of response on Biafra (see also Box 18A).
Also digitised from the ‘Disturbances’ folder are examples of two quite different approaches to fostering revolutionary cadres emerging in the autumn of 1968:
- ‘From Rebel to Revolutionary’, CP student recruitment pamphlet.
- A Christmas card from the editors of Ginger.
Documents circulating around the University to do with the May 1968 events
- ‘An Account of Recent Events’, A MacIntryre memo (13.03.68) in wake of Powell demonstration and obstruction of enquiries relating to it. Engages question of disciplinary procedures, which MacIntyre claims are wanted by a majority of the University community (Box 12/WPCC).
‘A Statement’ (Andy Mack, 11.03.68) (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 10).
- Memo to all members of General Assembly (14.05.68) from B Reddy (Economics) and A Barker (Government) proposing early meeting of GA on this date in advance of Senate meeting next day (Wednesday 15th) & formally-convened GA the following Monday 20th (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 28).
- Appeal for support for Paris students (undated, May 1968).
- Free University Resolutions from Friday’s meetings (17.05.68) requesting reassurances about full reinstatement of rusticated students and stipulating that any court constituted to deal with the Inch affair should be able to find any member of the university guilty. This is the ‘ultimatum’ referred to in reports over the weekend (Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 48).
- ‘Close Porton Down’ memo for universities and colleges from ‘The June 16th Committee, c/o Socialist Society’, announcing demonstration outside the MoD in Whitehall June 16th, following end of LSE conference. Calls especially for theatricality/’scientists’ outfits and gas masks etc.’ (See also ‘Make a Desolation and Call it Peace’, Box 14/Internal Documents Ref 66).
- ‘Report of Organisation Committee’ of Students’ Council (20.06.68) – adjourned to Sunday morning June 23rd following a ‘heralded… noisy interruption’ by protestors. Business included Council appointments, and plenty of discussion about Wyvern policy.
- Schedule of June meetings for resumed Free University (24-27.06.68).
- Mock Free University programme (01-03.07.68) with satirical session titles/descriptions.
Material on student representation and conduct, including in the Towers residences (see also a number of the student society publications/bulletins below in this folder)
- Anonymous handwritten meeting note (1) from or for speech, on Marxist alienation, freedom of speech, and the limited options in the present situation for meaningful participation, dissent, or dialogue. Given the theme, it is possible that the note originated in the Free University discussion of ‘The Social Psychology of Conflict’ on Tuesday 14th May.
- Anonymous handwritten meeting note (2) seemingly jotted down during a May 1968 update and discussion on student actions in Paris (as reported by Terence Gould), and at Essex, Cambridge, and Hornsea. In the case of Essex, it is noted, ‘representation on committees inadequate. Power would be moved if it happened’.
- Mock Free University programme (01-03.07.68) with satirical session titles/descriptions.
- Cleaner/Student Liaison Committee meeting report (15.10.68).
- ‘Tower Democracy!’ circular inc motions for Student/Worker General Assembly. A couple of slightly scathing annotations (undated, likely October 1968).
Documents on the January 1969 occupations of the Computing and Printing Centres
- Memo from Alan Gibson on behalf of Senate (22.01.69) on Computing Centre and Printing Centre occupations January 13th and 14th and action in respect of Swingler and Halberstadt, being no longer members of the University (see also ‘Wyvern extra – Tower’s Drug Raid’ from May 1968, below).
- Memo (13.01.69) from Dean of Comparative Studies re publication of facts surrounding Halberstadt’s expulsion, enc. Account from Peter Strevens, Director of Language Centre, on his student’s non-attendance (10.01.69).
- ‘Why our action is necessary’ (14.01.69) on Halberstadt case, demanding reinstatement, student representation and input into course design, end to arbitrary power, and no victimisation.
- Petition against demonstrations and disruptions, claiming to have received ‘300 signatures in the space of 2 hours over lunchtime on Tuesday 14th January’ (1969).
- ‘The Struggle Enters a New Stage’ (15.01.69) on Computing Centre occupation in support of Halberstadt, similar demands to the above (14.01.69) and announcing General Meeting Friday 16th January 1969.
- ‘What is a Sell-Out: An Academic Dissertation’ (17.01.69).
- ‘Eye Witness and Personal Account of Recent Events’ (anon) on May and December ’68, and especially recent occupations of Printing and Computing Centres; RSSF comes in for stinging criticism as demoralising ‘fused groups’ and perpetually delaying direct action in bids to grow the movement.
[See also In Brief (20.01.69) under ‘Student publications and society bulletins’, below in this folder].
Documents on the ‘Festival of Revolution’, February 1969
- ‘Manifesto and Provisional Programme for the Festival of Revolution’ (24.01.69).
- ‘Notes on the Events of the Last Few Weeks’ (Mid-February 1969): reflections on gains and losses arising from the recent occupations and Revolutionary Festival.
Material relating to disturbances at London School of Economics & other campuses
- ‘LSE – the Facts’ (01.02.69).
- Petition in support of LSE students demands that LSE reopens, that the security gates are not reinstalled, that there should be no intimidation, and that Albert Sloman state his position on that situation publicly.
- ‘Manifesto’ (unsigned, undated) on Students’ Movement in Britain, problems of progressive politics in the British context, and especially the urgent need for students to articulate their demands fully and clearly.
Student publications and society bulletins
- ‘Essex Free Press – Second Edition’ (29.01.69). Update on actions in universities nationwide, noting also Trades Unions’ support.
- Hammer #1. RSA bulletin, ed. Chris Mullins (Spring 1968).
- In Brief #2 (03.10.68). Bulletin from Students’ Council Information Office includes progress report on student representation/participation in University government.
- In Brief #20 (20.01.69) inc. election results & motions regarding Halberstadt case.
- Red Letter #2 (c10.10.68) on Dean of Students Cook and Towers policy especially.
- Red Letter #3 (17.10.68) on workers’ control, Sunday Times article, gunfire at the Collegio de Mexico, night security patrol staff on campus and the predicted demise of Keith Ives.
- Red Letter #4 (22.10.68) on decision-making structures General Assembly, Northern Ireland demonstration, CFY exams campaign; Victor Norris and the ‘Committee of Five Thousand’ (local ex-military ‘fascist’ and his plans for the University); the rebirth of the University Labour Club, and how to deal with journalists on campus; ‘marked’ at the foot of back page.
- Red Letter ‘GM Special’ (Undated, October 1969).
- Red Letter (07.02.69).
- ‘Wyvern Supplement’ (23.05.68). Reports on ‘Tower’s Drug Raid’ resulting in four seemingly-arbitrary arrests (inc. Halberstadt and Swingler); cites letter from Deputy Registrar to Swingler: “… I should be glad if you would not visit the University at any time in the future.’
- Wyvern Late News, ‘Early start in exam battle: first years unite!’ (undated, likely Oct 1968).
- Circular (undated) from ‘CIA’ (or ‘Campus Information Agency’) announcing their cooperative services in any exchanges of information.
- Unsigned and undated satirical ‘Draft paragraph for “General Information” section of Prospectus’ (likely autumn 1969, in light of references to a ‘disgusting Revolutionary Festival’ as having taken place the previous year).