Salient.The Newspaper of Victoria University College. Vol. 19, No. 4. April 6, 1955
In Reply to C.B. . . . — O'Brien Says IUS is Cominform Tool
In Reply to C.B. . . .
O'Brien Says IUS is Cominform Tool
NZUSA Congress passed a resolution concerning the desirability of one international student body and, at the same time, hoping that NZUSA would enter into the closest practical liaison with IUS. The two parts of the motion are mutually exclusive if it be thought that the object of the first part will be achieved by carrying out the second. It would seem, from C.B.s article in the issue of March 10, that at least one contributor to "Salient" thinks In this fashion.
A closer look at that article shows a host of errors. COSEC is described as a "splinter group . . . which docs not claim to be a fully fledged organisation at all." If one can logically argue that a body which broke away from an older group but which now numbers more than twice as many national student union members is a "splinter group." then C.B.s statement would be correct. There are at least 44 national student unions in co-operation with COSEC. Only 18 national student unions, including 12 from Communist countries, are members of IUS. This gives the benefit of doubt to six of the 18. By "national student union." I mean an organisation of students in Universities or Institutes of higher education, which represents all or the majority of the students in a territory having a separate defacto governmental administration, and whoso executive is freely elected.
C.B., then states that there is some evidence that many of the opponents of IUS dislike the kind of political action in which IUS engages and goes on to imply that this is because these people dislike such notions as democratic education. These people, he says, "have led the split away from IUS." Again this is grossly untrue but is another example of the smear tactics used by the protagonists of IUS to belittle those who disagree with them. The people who led the split away and were later joined by a host of others, have this to say about national Independence and democratic education:
(the conference) . . . "recognises that education in many countries and in particular in colonial areas is often inappropriate and educational opportunities are inadequate or unequal, and that national Independence Is of primary importance in the intellectual, cultural, social and, often, in the economic life of these areas, and therefore recommends that national unions of students lend moral support to the wishes of students in those colonial areas lighting for national Independence to move as rapidly as possible toward the goal of that independence, which is the prerequisite of full educational opportunity."
In addition to the "moral support." the national student unions who cooperate with COSEC, particularly in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia have done much In the way of promoting scholarships and providing relief to assist in the education of people in these areas much more than students in this favoured country can be persuaded to do.
IUS a Cominform Agency
If C.B.'s reasons for people leaving IUS are incorrect, then what are the correct ones? The simple answer is that these student unions objected and still object to partisan political activity on the part of IUS. Like most of "Salient's" readers, they objected to such things as the gloriflcation of North Korean aggression, the unconstitutional expulsion of Yugoslavia when that country was expelled from the Cominform, the fervent support of all causes that were Communist causes, and the fanatical opposition to those that were not. These students objected to the failure of the IUS to be "political" when it was a question of protesting against the shooting of Czech students by the Czech police when they were protesting against Communist "Action Committees" taking over their democratically run student bodies. It was because the IUS had become little more than a Cominform agency that those national student unions left.
The paragraph which states that all South American States, all states of the Middle and Far East and all African areas where there were educational facilities are represented, mostly by representative national unions, is untrue. The only "national union" from South America at the last IUS Conference was Ecuador. If you give the benefit of the doubt to Bolivia, the tally would be increased to two. At the last COSEC conference, seven came from Latin America and there will probably be more this year.
Outside communist Asia only two national unions (Japan and Burma—the latter a doubtful case) were at the last IUS conference as compared with 4 at the last COSEC conference, excluding Australia and New Zealand. Apart from the Arab countries and South Africa, only one delegate came from Africa itself to the IUS conference, compared with delegates from six national unions who attended the COSEC conference. There is only one full European member of IUS, Finland, and the Finns dissented from most of the motions at the last IUS meeting.
C.B. suggests that, if we were in IUS. there are also all sorts of advantages we could gain. The activities that he mentions are largely impossible because of the distance and cost whether IUS or COSEC organises the activities he mentions, and he is probably fully aware of this. Moreover, COSEC offers all these, freo of the odour of an all-embracing political bias if we are able to participate in them ail.
The statement Issued by NZUSA at the time of disaffiliation was a summary of the views of the five colleges which voted to disaffiliate and contained many of the points I have made above. To suggest that it was imbecile to talk about costs when that cost amount to about £250 or over half of the annual Income of NZUSA, shows an irresponsibility that is happily rare in student affairs. NZUSA's officers have always been willing to tell people these things and have done so whenever asked. They did not decide on these matters. The policy-making power is in the hands of the College executives.
The new Associate Membership is useful only to those countries who are near enough to get some benefit from practical activities. The three countries, Britain, South Africa and Israel, which have adopted this form of membership have been careful to see that they are in no way associated with IUS policy decisions. The South Africans have hedged their membership with restrictions that run to half a foolscap page of single-space typing. As Car as the rest of the [unclear: monwealth] concerned, Scotland is out, Canada sends observers but does very little else and the Australians will in future send observers only when it is "desirable and necessary"—the assumption being that it is not at all times likely to be desirable and necessary.
Cosec Not Partisan
COSEC, C.B., offers a chance to students of the democracies to cooperate in an atmosphere free from the partisan politics of IUS. In the fact that so many have taken this chance in such a short time, lies the main hope of achieving International student unity. While the IUS forgets the spirit In which it was founded, and the letter of its constitution it can never contribute to the achievement of this goal.
M. J. O'Brien,Vice-President, NZUSA.