Students in the late 60s and the70s
The late 1960s and 1970s era of student protest and its principal events.
The early 70s era of student protest came to an end around 1976.
For instance a group called Moderation arose, advocating moderation and even apathy.
- About 50 Emmanuel students delayed paying their college bill as a protest at the cost of food
- June 1965
- Vietnam protest banner hung between pinnacles of King's College Chapel
- November 1967
- 300 demonstrated when the American ambassador visited Churchill College
- January 1969: Old Schools Sit-In
- One of the Mill Lane Lecture rooms and the Grad Pad were occupied to show
solidarity with the London School of Economics sit-in,
then the protesters marched to the Old Schools and occupied the Council Room.
They issued a statement demanding local changes such as gate hour reform
and the end to University representation on the City Council.
- February 1970 The Garden House Riot
- A Greek Week was held, with support from the Colonels' regime,
local travel agents and the Royal Cambridge and Garden House Hotels.
There was some minor trouble from demonstrators early in the week but
on Friday evening about 400 demonstrators gathered at the Garden House.
They picketed to dissuade people from going in to the Greek evening dinner.
They also hoped to hear an exiled Greek deputy's speech.
It seems that some demonstrators went further, such as drumming on the windows.
Police reinforcements arrived. Violence flared on both sides, the dinner
was invaded and the River Suite room damaged. Around 10.30 Police dogs arrived
and the violence ended. Six students were arrested.
The Cambridge Evening News called it a riot, starting the journalistic hype.
The Proctors were forced to give evidence at the ensuing trial of nine people
for inciting riotous assembly. How those people were singled out (seemingly by the
Proctors) caused resentment towards the Proctors for many years afterwards.
(The Garden House Hotel was rebuilt in 1972 after a fire.)
- October 1970: Students' Union meeting
- Over 1500 attented to demand reform of the disciplinary system,
resulting in an inquiry, whose slow deliberations caused disturbances.
- Students from elsewhere gained the right to vote in Cambridge.
- 1972 Stop Press founded as a radical student newspaper;
- It merged with Varsity in 1975 as Stop Press With Varsity.
- 1972 Nursery Action Group founded.
- 1972 Old Schools sit-in (for 48 hours)
- To gain representation in the CU decision-making process.
In 1976 student observers were permitted on the
Council of the Senate.
- 1973 Sit-in of Lady Mitchell Hall and the Economics Faculty
- To protest at the lack of progress in student representation on the
Economics Faculty Board and reform of the Economics Tripos.
- 1975 Senate House sit-in
- By the Nursery Action Group to protest at the lack of nursery provision for staff and students.
Provoked the formation of a joint CU/Nursery Action Group working party,
which produced no real results at the time.
- 1976 University Library sit-in
- Protesting at the evening closure (7pm instead of 10pm)
By this time there was a clear distinction between the small groups
of highly active political hacks and the the majority of students,
who consciously chose to ridicule or at least ignore the hacks' activities.
In the late 70s students campaigned mostly about the College kitchen fixed charges:
the fixed amount charged by most Colleges towards the costs of kitchens -
effectively the overheads. The cost of individual meals was low under this scheme.
The point is that the high charge forced students to eat in College or waste money.
There was also a lesser campaign against the absurd gate hours of some Colleges
(e.g. all members in by 10pm or midnight, not allowed out till 6am)
and there were some rent strikes.
Another major issue was for a staff and student nursery - the
high-profile Nursery Action Group.
The political hacks campaigned on national and international issues,
such as Chilean human rights and persuading
Colleges to disinvest from Barclays, due to alleged connections with South Africa,
and to sell any South African investments.
Various College student unions (JCRs) occasionally
disaffiliated from the National Union of Students and/or CUSU as a protest at what
might be called in the Nineties loony left activities.
Students Union Newsletter 7 November 1978
- CUSU Recognition
- Five years on from Lord Develin's report CUSU still had no voting rights on the
Council of Senate, despite that body recommending the same.
CUSU had only achieved 3 observers.
- After much campaigning CUSU managed to have a rare quorate meeting
to pass a resolution - they got more than the necessary 200 majority for the motion to "disinvest from
South Africa" to oppose arpartheid.
The University & Colleges supposedly had investments in companies trading
there and bank accounts with Barclays which managed the investments - supposedly £50M-worth.
- Education Policy
- An appeal for more student involvement in Faculty committees, being the
only way that students could influence teaching quality.
- Open Meeting motions
- Human rights in Russia, noting persecution of various groups and condemning the state as oppressive and undemocratic.
Also a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
- Support for the two City councillors trying to reverse the Council's
decision to ban the homosexual counselling service Friend's stall at the annual
Leisure Services' fair.
- Student Community Action
- (A CU & CCAT group giving students opportunities for community service)
- It had just taken on a full-time worker, based in City Road.
- The Kite
- The Kite Coordinating Committee plus Student Community Action
plan to refurbish Kite properties. The KCC were planning gradual renewal via
community self-help, fighting the planning blight.
- Nursery Action Group
- After six years' campaigning it seemed that a nursery might actually open
in 1979 but there were still funding problems.
The aim was to have affordable charges for all, to avoid it being restricted to better-off dons.