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The RETIRING PROCTORS beg leave to report to the University as follows:
It seems appropriate for the Proctors to offer some kind of account of their year in office. Proctors ex officio attend Council meetings and are members of a number of other University Bodies, most notably the Board of Scrutiny, but since the work of such Bodies is well known this report will concentrate on less widely publicized proctorial activity.
Proctors are most visible at University ceremonies, particularly at Congregations where their presence is mandatory. We also attend University Sermons, funerals, and memorial services. During the past year, we and our Constables additionally took part in the Enthronement Service for the new Bishop of Ely in November and the Assize Service in Great St Mary's in February.
We were astonished to discover that, in recent years, University attendance at the Remembrance Sunday Service in Great St Mary's had almost entirely lapsed. We feel that a proctorial presence is important and acknowledges those members of the University who have fallen in wars.
Accordingly, we were pleased to accompany the Vice-Chancellor and Lady Broers to this Service. We arranged for the maces to be veiled and wore mourning caps and bands. The youngest of our Constables wore his Gulf War medal and his Northern Ireland Service medal. The Senior Proctor arranged with the University Bellringer for half-muffled ringing before and after the Service.
The Remembrance Sunday Service also provides a very public opportunity for promoting good relations with the City. The University party stood outside the West Door to greet the Mayor and her procession as they entered Great St Mary's. In return, the Mayor entertained us in the Guildhall after the Service.
This experience served as a useful rehearsal for the grand occasion of the Cambridge Octocentennial Service in January. This time the Vice-Chancellor, Proctors, Constables, and Heads of Houses were joined by senior officers of Anglia Polytechnic University, including their Vice-Chancellor, and the combined forces joyously welcomed the Mayor's procession to the University Church.
The Proctors took part in many secular ceremonies too, including the Presentation of Benefactors to the Chancellor, the opening of the new Divinity Building by HM the Queen, the opening of the new Unilever Building, the opening of the Park and Cycle Scheme, the visit by Anne Campbell, MP to the Disability Resource Centre, and a tree-planting by the Mayor and Vice-Chancellor in the Botanic Garden as part of the Cambridge Octocentennial celebrations.
In July the Proctors, accompanied by their Constables and the Vice-Marshal, paid a most agreeable visit to the Office of the Privy Council in London where the Clerk to the Council signed, in their presence, the Order relating to changes to Statutes B, D, F, and G. The Proctors presented the Order to the University in the Senate-House during the July Congregation the following day.
Procedures at Congregations continue to accord with time-honoured tradition. Some evolution takes place nevertheless and for the benefit of future historians it is worth noting some recent minor alterations. For example, the retiring Deputy Proctors now take part in the first Congregation of the year when they demit publicly and to acclaim.
The unpopularity of the Senate-House robing room has led to another change in practice. The Vice-Chancellor, or his deputy, now enters the Senate-House at the start of Congregations already robed and leaves at the end similarly attired.
The Proctors looked into the pay structure and the management arrangements of the Constabulary and discovered that they were largely tailored to the long-obsolete practice of night patrols. Following a consultative meeting with the Constabulary some changes have been introduced.
There was unanimous agreement that all Constables should be paid at the same rate and should serve in Office (be assigned to a Proctor) in fairly strict rotation. A typical Constable can now expect to serve in Office approximately one year in four.
There was a strong feeling that there should be six Constables in Office rather than four. It has become increasingly difficult to arrange time off for constabulary duty and finding substitutes can be time consuming. With six Constables in Office there will be no need to search for substitutes if at least four are available.
To ensure that future Vice-Chancellors, Bedells, and Proctors are appropriately attired for funerals, memorial services, and Remembrance Sunday, the outgoing Proctors have placed a supply of mourning caps and bands, and veiling material for the maces, in the care of the Senate-House Keeper. These items will be kept with the sermon hoods worn by Proctors.
In anticipation of having two additional Constables in Office the outgoing Proctors have augmented the proctorial armoury with two new weapons: a pair of ceremonial truncheons which were commissioned on 1 October when they were carried in procession by the first-ever women Constables in Office.
University ceremonies continue to be greatly appreciated and attendance at Degree Congregations increases relentlessly. The administrative procedures which are currently in place are excellent and it is to be hoped that this excellence will be maintained. Our ceremonies make for good public relations and it is important to safeguard them.
The March and May Congregations are exceptionally busy. The Council have agreed that these Congregations should start half an hour earlier in 2002 and it is likely that there will be increasing pressure to start the March Congregation even earlier since the ceremony runs on well after dark. This is too late for taking good photographs on the Senate-House lawn.
An important concern, which is still unresolved, is that of the presentation of graduands for higher degrees. Many Praelectors express considerable disquiet about having to be responsible for such graduands without having the authority to present them.
This matter was considered by the Senate-House Syndicate eighteen months ago but the Syndicate has not met since. Praelectors and others may wonder whether this Syndicate serves any purpose. The outgoing Proctors believe that this Syndicate should have a statutory annual meeting, perhaps in the second half of the Lent Term, to receive an interim report from the Proctors and to discuss matters raised by Praelectors and other interested parties.
The Proctors continue to have a role in ensuring discipline and good order, and their services are much used at protests and demonstrations and also for monitoring the running of University Examinations.
One of the first events of the past year was an unofficial visit to Cambridge by the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Proctors were warned of possible trouble. Happily, the event passed off peacefully. Indeed the Proctors were much impressed by the sight of 400 students all wearing suits. Moreover, Dr Mahatir kindly autographed the Senior Proctor's copy of his book The Malay Dilemma.
Most demonstrations were concerned with anti-globalization issues and caused minor disruption and some annoyance to University staff and officers. Fortunately, there were no serious incidents.
With the City and the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, the Junior Proctor collaborated in a Home Office funded scheme for improving bicycle safety and security in the City. A campaign was held to encourage junior members of the University to mark their bicycles in accordance with the relevant Proctorial Notice.
The principal demand on the time of the Clerk to the Proctors continues to be the regulation of registered University Societies. The majority of Societies are well run but, regrettably, a disproportionate amount of effort had to be spent reminding some major and old-established Societies of their duty to file their annual accounts by the deadline of 31 December. A policy of 'naming and shaming' may have to be introduced.
The Proctors undertook examination patrols in January and April as well as during the main examination season. A number of cases of unfair means were investigated. Many of these were minor or instances of misunderstandings but one case has been taken to the Court of Discipline.
We are concerned that the University's excellence in many areas hardly extends to our examination venues. No single venue can be described as ideal. Although none of the regular venues is unacceptable many are too cramped or too hot for comfort.
It is possible that the proposed new sports complex in West Cambridge will provide a first-class examination venue. High priority should be given to exploiting this opportunity.
The Proctors received a number of complaints from outside the University, principally about graffiti and student use of cars. The acting Motor Proctor fined a junior member in the Michaelmas Term and other incidents were investigated.
The most serious case to reach the Proctors during the year related to the cancellation of a seminar by a distinguished academic visitor to the University. The cancellation followed inappropriate pressure by some senior members of the University and appeared to be in breach of national legislation and University regulations as well as a Proctorial Notice intended to safeguard freedom of speech. The Proctors apologized to the visitor on behalf of the University and emphasize that such incidents are unacceptable.
The retiring Proctors are grateful for the advice and guidance that they received from many quarters and wish their successors well for the coming year.
|16 October 2001||FRANK H. KING|
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Cambridge University Reporter, 21 November 2001
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.