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Occupy Warwick
Kasper de Graaf, 08 February 2016

[Feb 8, 2016. Introduction to a lecture organised by The Boar as part of a series to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the University of Warwick.]

“Looking back across the decades, the thing about Warwick is that although it did have its growing pains, it was a great university from the get-go.

“There were fewer of us then, but Warwick had a spirit of challenge and enquiry which we students entered into and which perhaps fanned some of the turmoil. We as around 20-year olds attending Warwick University were not so different from students today, so to understand the turmoil of the period we need to look at the context of the time, and not only at Warwick. Warwick was for a time the poster place of activism, but student protests were nationwide.

Get It On by T-Rex had been the summer song of 1971 and in October, John Lennon’s Imagine topped the album chart. Prime minister Edward Heath was preparing to take us into the European Common Market, and his education secretary was Margaret Thatcher. The most important movie of the year was A Clockwork Orange and in December David Bowie released Hunky Dory. You can see it was a heady mix.”

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[The Lecture tells the story of student unrest in the mid-1970s and some of the key events that have helped shape what Warwick is today, including the establishment of the students union’s own building after a five-year battle, the founding of what has since become an award-winning student publication, The Warwick Boar, the death of Warwick student Kevin Gately in a counter-demonstration against the National Front, and the struggle to retain equal access and opportunity in higher education which resulted in an ultimately doomed occupation of Senate House and eviction by 600 police at six in the morning. The history and popularity of the students’ actions are brought vividly back to life by the photography of Jake Bernard and contemporary press reports.]