Ex-Liverpool student kicked out for anti-apartheid protest recieves honorary degree
A 46 year degree in the making
A former Liverpool student, who was expelled for protesting against apartheid, is to be awarded an honorary degree from the university. Pete Creswell was kicked out in 1970 for protesting against the university’s investments in apartheid-era South Africa.
Creswell was one of ten students, including Channel 4 News reader Jon Snow, punished for taking part in the occupation of the university’s Senate House. The former politics student was the only one who was expelled for the protest after the university found him guilty of “conduct detrimental to the discharge of the university”. Snow was suspended for a year and never returned to complete his law degree.
Mr Cresswell told the BBC he was “gobsmacked” and “astonished” upon hearing the news of being awarded an honorary degree. He said he had always thought “hell would freeze over” before the university gave him one. He also said “If I went back through it 1,000 times, my 22-year-old self in 1970 would do [the protest] again”.
He also told the Guardian, “I’m not necessarily proud of what I did. Pride is the wrong word. But I would stick by my political principles. In the end we were proved right, weren’t we?”
The chancellor of the university at the time was Lord Salisbury, a known supporter of apartheid. But awarding him an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, the current vice chancellor Professor Janet Beer said “we in the university want to put this right”. She said that while the university “cannot undo” Mr Cresswell’s “unfair and wrong” treatment, it can “recognise that wrong, and publicly do so” to a man who “saw what was the right thing to do and paid a price for it”.
Mr Snow, who received an honorary degree from the university in 2011, sent him a congratulatory video message, saying: “Well done Pete. Well done Liverpool – I still love you.”
Mr Cresswell said that while Mr Snow could not attend, he was “there in spirit”.
The university has also recently awarded April Ashley an honorary degree. Ashley is a model and transwoman from Liverpool who was one of the first people in the world to undergo pioneering gender reassignment surgery. An exhibition of her life April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady was held at the Museum of Liverpool attracted more than 1.3 million people.