Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 9. July 1, 1954
The almost imperceptible sign off on awakening of interest among students in their own student affairs was caused, as some are no doubt aware, by the recently held Exec. Elections. However, this awakening, slight as it was, was so transient as to disappear almost completely in the short interval between the elections and the holding of the Annual General Meeting. The attendance at the A.G.M. was meager, lo say the least.
We have Jong hold the opinion that students are showing less interest in the activities of the Students Association which are of general importance than they did in the past. This we admit, is a generalisation which is open to correction. It may be, for example, that students have never shown much interest in the general affairs of the Association of which they are all financial members. The attendance at the A.G.M. would support other of these views.
So there would appear to be a largo element of truth in the thousands of words that have been written and spoken on "Student Apathy", and related subjects. But we hold differently. This University is primarily a degree school, and activations which are not concerned with the gaining of a good career qualification are incidentals which should assume no greater importance than any hobby or pastime. As almost everybody has a leaning towards some hobby or sport, it is natural to find in existence at this College, clubs and societies like the Rugby Football Club, the Socialist Club, and so on.
Such activities, and we would include "Salient" amongst them, are not a manifestation of any "corporate spirit" or other significant characteristic which is peculiar lo a university college. Rather do we believe that they are the natural and normal results of any large number of people attending the same institution for a similar purpose—in this case the gaining of a degree.
Such may be the explanation of the apparent "student apathy". It may not be apathy at all, but commonsense. When extra-curricular activities interfere with study, the sensible course of action is to drop the former, and this usually happens.
This university is supported by the public, who need the skilled technicians which is produces. Students have therefore an obligation first of all to the public, and secondly to themselves, to make the best use of the facilities of a university, so that they might benefit society technically, and themselves economically. If the result is that each student does not attend sympathetically to the demands made upon him by the many minorities in this college, who can complain?
A student is a member of a university, but he is also n member of society, and he is entitled to choose his interests from both these spheres. The fact that he 'shows little interest in certain student activities does not, we maintain, give anyone the right to call him "apathetic", especially when it is remembered that, from the nature of our society, about three-quarters of the students are part-timers.
This editorial, which is our last, is in the nature of but a short comment on a subject which is capable of much greater development. Finally we would like to offer our appreciation of the help and criticism which has come from staff and students, and to thank the "Salient" staff, who have made the task of a part-time editor so much easier than it would have been.
—D. F. Donovan.