Liverpool University is granting an honorary degree to Pete Creswell, a former student who, in 1970, was expelled for protesting the school’s support of South African apartheid. Organizing a sit-in at the university’s Senate House, Creswell–and the 300 protesters who joined him–objected to the then-chancellor’s vocal support of apartheid and the school’s financial entanglements with South Africa. He was expelled soon after, but almost 50 years later, Liverpool University seems to have realized their mistake.
As protests spread across college campuses in the United States, from Black Lives Matter last year to post-election discontent, this long-term view is important to consider. Political actions are remembered long after they’re over, and both the people doing them and the institutions responding to them are judged for their stances, especially in cases like apartheid where history has established one side was unambiguously wrong. There is not a strict separation of political and moral issues, and we see that, even after punishing protestors, some schools realize this.
Looks like the Civil War ain't over yet.
— Pete Cresswell (@CresswellPete) November 9, 2016
Interviewed by The Guardian, Creswell said “I would stick by my political principles. In the end we were proved right, weren’t we?” Protesters in 2016 can remember this: no matter what consequences they face, doing the right thing can be remembered.