50 years of Warwick news, told by The Boar
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Boar, the news team have scoured the archives to have a detailed look back at some of the most important stories at Warwick since The Boar’s creation in 1973.
1973 – 1978 – written by Jude Wilkinson
In the foundation issue of The Boar, the Students’ Union were fighting for a dedicated building (how things have changed!). The decision depended on whether “students are competent… to run their own building”.
The new construction was to replace Rootes, which occupied the present space of the Atrium. Rootes was described by a Professor of Sociology in the following issue as a ‘cesspit’, and claimed that whoever designed it ought to be sent to the ‘salt mines’.
At the first-year reception in 1973, held at a venue called the Airport Lounge – presumably air transport was more luxurious in those days – a debate was held on the topic of whether Richard Nixon should resign.
In other news, the SU Treasurer resigned towards the end of 1973 citing ‘apathy’ towards the SU. Surely not? He went on to make the claim that students were ‘children’.
1979-1984 – Jonny Ball
Margaret Thatcher visits campus – 24 February 1984 (no 28)
In a period that saw global sensations such as U2, The Cure and The Smiths visit campus, the latter would probably not have got along with our visitor in February 1984. One of Britain’s most defining and controversial modern figures, The Baroness Thatcher opened the first buildings of the University’s Science Park. Declaring that “Warwick leads the way” during her speech, the science park was one of the first of its kind in the country and as Thatcher noted was crucial in “turning discovery and the creative ideas here to the advantage of the population as a whole”.
The backdrop to this event was a large protest of 1,200 students which in the words of one student was designed to: “Make Mrs. Thatcher aware of students anger by making as much noise as possible”. This led to an egg being launched at the Prime Minister and missing, with one guard allegedly noting that only one officer was needed for former PM Jim Callaghan’s visit.
1985-1990 – Rohan Amte
‘No chance N.U.S’ 5 March 1986
Demonstrations took place in London against Westminster over social security legislation. The protests were deemed a ‘success’ by NUS president Phil Woolas, However, they received little media coverage despite 30,000 attendees.
No place to go’ 29 June 1987
150 third-year students were forced off campus with nowhere to live as the University backtracked on its promise of offering at least two years of on-campus accommodation. Many of those who were rejected by the University could not afford to live anywhere else.
‘Pro-LIFE Society Barred’ 15 November 1989
The SU executive voted to not recognise the anti-abortion society ‘Right to Life’ demonstrating abortion’s long-standing contentious nature, especially within the student body.
1991-1996 – Josh Bradbury
‘The end of the line’ 19 February 1991 (no 16)
“A financial crisis could force the Warwick Boar out of print as early as next week” reported Marc Sanderson, now head of marketing at the Royal College of Organists, in early 1991. Having overspent its budget by over £4,000 the previous year the newspaper had run out of money prior to the special election edition, which was funded by a grant from the Executive and Elections Committee.
The situation was temporarily resolved by the passing of a motion put forward at that Friday’s UGM requiring the SU to fund two further editions of the newspaper that academic year. This meant that following the February 26 edition of The Boar, there would only one further edition that academic year, published on April 30.
‘Elections annulled’ (Vol 14 no 10)
The disqualification of candidate Colin Newman from the Management Committee election was overruled by an independent arbitrator, causing the head of the elections committee to resign while allegations of inappropriate behaviour were made against the general secretary. Newman was disqualified after a column bearing their name was featured in the newspaper less than two weeks before the election, a violation of the rules. However, it emerged that the column had in fact been written by General Secretary of the SU, who had attached Newman’s name to the column in order to avoid embarrassment.
‘£112,465 overspend revealed (Vol 14 no 14)
At a meeting that was only quorate by counting the extra people on the balcony, the SU’s treasurer revealed that the refurbishment of the SU buildings had run significantly over budget.
‘Abuse of power’ (Vol 15 no 9)
Warwick Labour society misused SU space by its members using the SU resources room. This was facilitated by the society’s strong links to members of the SU executive.
1997-2005 – Ben Morley
US Presidential Visit to Warwick – 14 December 2000 (issue 10, volume 23)
On his last trip to Europe as President, with just weeks left of his Presidency, President Bill Clinton along with Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Warwick in December 2000. Clinton was joined by First Lady and future Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea.
Clinton, Blair and then-Vice-Chanchellor Sir Brian K. Follett spoke in Butterworth Hall at the Arts Centre. Blair introduced Clinton and called him a “true leader of the western world” and a “friend and counsel to me and other leaders”. Clinton spoke about the issues facing the world in the coming decade. He argued for the expansion of globalisation to lift the world’s poor and mentioned the dangers of climate change and epidemics.
Sandy Berger, Clinton’s National Security Advisor said: “Warwick is one of Britain’s newest and finest research universities, singled out by Prime Minister Blair as a model both of academic excellence and independence from the government.”
2006-2012 – Cameron Roberts
From 2006 to 2007, The Boar was involved with a variety of coverage including on issues ranging from the overpayment of student loans to 300+ Warwick student heading to London to protest various attempts to raise caps on fees. In this time, The Boar also maintained its interest in reporting about local news, with one front page article (in Issue 11, volume 29) recounting the story of a third year student who lost consciousness after having be struck by a disco ball in a Leamington club (the student recovered shortly after).
Moving into 2008, the issue of grade inflation began to emerge leading some lecturers to call for changes to the marking system.
In a move benefitting history and history of art students in particular, 2009 saw the University of Warwick strengthen its ties with a university in Venice.
In 2011, The Boar reported on UCU strikes over pensions. The paper also reported on Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Royal Leamington Spa in the same year. In Student’s Union news, 2011 saw the organisation overturn a so called ‘McDonald’s sponsorship ban’, an issue which had “caused a considerable amount of controversy in recent years”.
2013-Present – Emily Neville
Lecture-free Week 0 confirmed for 2018 Freshers – 8 February 2017 (issue 8, volume 39 )
Having been only one of the UK universities without a designated “Freshers Week”, Warwick students had been campaigning for a decade for one to take place at Warwick which was thus confirmed for the autumn of 2018.
“11 students suspended after group chat exposed” – 10 May 2018 (issue 11, volume 40)
A group chat was exposed on campus that involved a group of male students talking about sexually assaulting and raping other students from the University. 98 screenshots of a “lad’s chat” were submitted as evidence to the university some of which were published in The Boar. Originally, the University had told The Boar that suspensions were ‘precautionary’.
“Group chat students back next year” – 31 January 2019 (issue 7 volume 41)
The University was accused of a lack of transparency for failing to announce the return of two students who had been involved in the group chat. They had both been banned from campus for ten years. It was reduced to one year following an appeal.
“Independent review announced after group chat scandal” – 14 February 2019 (issue 8 volume 41)
The University instituted an independent review but this was conducted by the Director of Press. This fact was first reported by The Boar, who were then credited for this information when the BBC made a documentary on the story.
The work of The Boar has documented the impact of multiple UCU strikes conducted on campus, particularly over the last 10 years. Recently, the UCU voted to strike for 3 days in Term 1 of the 2022/2023 academic year. However, this is not a new phenomenon on campus.
At the end of 2017, it was reported that proposed government reform, including the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), could see new academics’ pensions cut by up to 40%. Vice-chancellor Stuart Croft was among the critics of this reform.
He stated: “As a University, we need to be able to offer a competitive and high-quality pension scheme and we will seek to work with any other interested parties to identify whether any alternative, more innovative, solutions may be feasible.”
The UCU warned that campuses would experience chaos if issues weren’t resolved by the new year. By February 2018, UCU strikes were announced. The Boar calculated that each student would lose £863 in value of hours lost over the course of 14 days of striking.
There was then an additional 14 days added to the strikes in March that were set to take place over exam season, including staff’s refusal to mark assessments. Students then sought compensation for the strikes as a class action lawsuit group was launched. However, the University of Warwick stated during the strike that “it is not anticipated that refunds would need to be made” because departments were expected to find alternative ways to support students.