Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 3. April 13, 1946
The Executive has received a complaint from an old student concerning the failure to publish a letter he addressed to "Salient" last May. Since the present executive was not in office at that time, the reason for its not being published is unknown. In answer to the complaint we now publish the letter. It may be stated that present executive assumes full responsibility for its publications, and has taken steps to ensure that such offensive matter as complained of is not published.
Dave Cohen, President, VUCSA.
Dear "Salient,"—In "Spike No. 64" (1936) I claimed the privilege as a life member of the Students' Association and you published a letter from me protesting against the "indecent exhibitionism" of "Cappicade." In that letter I said: "last year I read the programme with shame! this year I read it with indignation and nausea. Such an exhibition of dirty-mindedness should not have happened twice—I put 'Cappicade' of this year on the moral and literary level of latrine scribbling." I said other things, none of which I am able to regret.
I ventured in that letter, inter alia, to beg to the Students' Association to clean its own stables lest perchance the College Council and the Professorial Board would be compelled to take drastic action against representative members of an Executive when it fails to fulfil a manifest duty. I pointed out even then that it was not always possible to deal with the real culprit, who might even be outside the College—"a few young men obsessed with sex and not possessed of social intelligence, of good manners or of good taste." I write again because I think the 1945 "Cappicade" falls under the condemnation of 1936.
I am the more concerned this time because, during the past year I have heard statements made in connection with Victoria University College which indicate that many of the students of the College have not developed an executive conscience when confronted with facts which they themselves deplore. Let me state a case by way of example. Let us suppose a member of the Executive of the Students' Association is invited to a gathering of students and finds that students, both male and femala are drunk and sprawling about the room together. It may be assumed that the Executive member is a guest and the gathering held at some hall remote from the College, to which College rules do not apply, and by some special College group. Is it possible, in decency, to do anything about it?
In answering this question I make certain assumptions. The first is that the honour of the College as a whole and the honour of the University is involved. The second is that the honour of members of the College is very deeply involved because no social observer has failed to observe the association of drink with sexual promiscuity, an association which would not be missed, at any rate, by any reader of "Cappicade." I assume that no sane parent would send his son or his daughter to Victoria University College if he thought drunkenness and "Cappicade" morals represented the life of the College. I assume, finally, that the University stands for higher standards of life and living than are represented by drunkenness and promiscuity.
Assuming these things, I would venture to suggest that the student body, either on its own initiative or in consultation with the Professorial Board, should devise machinery which would guarantee suitable observation of all functions which may possibly be associated with the College and the immediate elimination from the College registers—whether temporarily or permanently—of those who offend. I do not think that students of the present day will act unless some duty is prescribed.
I would emphasise again, as I did in 1936, the desirability of the initiative in this matter springing from the Executive of the Student Association. The alternatives lie in the direction of the appointment of censors and proctors—highly objectionable institutions if they can be avoided—but absolutely necessary if students do not learn to co-operate with the forces of law, order and public decency and to impose reasonable discipline upon themselves.