Just getting ready to teach criminal law this semester and for the first time looked at the full facts behind the chestnut case MacPherson v Brown (1975) 12 SASR 184 – which we use as authority for the mens rea of assault. The facts in the textbook state:
A student was convicted of having assaulted a lecturer at Flinders University. A number of students, including the defendant, had taken over the administration building in protest over the alleged CIA links of a recently appointed senior administrator. The lecturer in question, who was involved in the re-occupation of the building by university officials, was surrounded by a number of students who for a time prevented him from passing through the group and caused him to fear for his personal safety. No actual physical contact was made and he was allowed to pass after about 10-15 minutes.
The full story is even more interesting. One key complaint was that History was insisting on a 3 hour exam, and the students felt they should have a right to be part of the decision making process. There were a range of Maoist ambitions of the student body, highly biased biased reporting, and some very violent reactions against the students in the retaking of the Chancellery. Below are a few links I’ve found:
- Anderson, The radicalisation of the campuses, 1967-74 (see bottom of page)
- Flinders facebook post
- 1974 ‘STUDENT SIT-IN CONTINUES’, The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), 14 August, p. 2.
- 1974 ‘Battle of Flinders turns sour’, The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), 30 August, p. 1.
- 1974 ‘A hard pace from the ‘hard core”, The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), 24 October, p. 2.
Highly unlikely we’d see this interest in educational/political issues from students these days …