Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 21, No. 8. 2nd July, 1958
The Low-Down on the I.S.C
The Low-Down on the I.S.C.
In a recent issue of "Salient", Mr. B. C. Shaw admirably summed up the activities of our national student body, NZUSA. Mr. Shaw pointed out that NZUSA is a member of the International Student Conference, the only existing alternative to the Communist-line I.U.S. He correctly explained that the purpose of I.S.C. is to "work out bases of co-operation on a non-political basis as far as possible". However, it would appear that either certain member organisations are trying to convert I.S.C. into an instrument of Western propaganda in exactly the same way as I.U.S. is an organ of Communist propaganda, or alternatively, the I.S.C. must take a pro-American attitude in order to continue to receive the financial support of its present, mostly American backers.
There are a few countries whose students unions are affiliated to both the I.U.S. and the I.S.C. One of them is the Sudan. The Students' Union of the University of Khartoum was represented at the recent I.S.C. meeting in Nigeria by Faisal Abdel Rahman as the official representative of Sudanese students. He subsequently wrote a report on the conference which, probably only because it was highly critical of I.S.C., was published by the I.U.S. News Service and subsequently in the I.U.S. magazine World Student News. Despite the fact that the report was published in a journal of the rival body, it is nevertheless of some interest because its writer comes from a neutral country.
"I was in the Commission on [unclear: the ing] and everybody was bored and sleepy. Then Mr. Bernard Galvin of New Zealand took the floor and told the Commission that he had enough reasons to establish a prima facie case against "Higher Education in Czechoslovakia', that he had information (he did not explain how he got it) about professors jailed and government measures violating academic freedom. It took the commission exactly two minutes to adopt a decision condemning, "a priori", higher education in Czechoslovakia, and ordering R.I.C. to submit a report on that system for the 8th I.S.C., whereas just before the Czechoslovak item, it took all the Latin American delegates in the Commission who felt very strongly about Franco more than two hours to pass the same decision on Franco Spain and its Syndicato Espanol Universitario (S.E.U.). Despite statements made by S.E.U. representative in the Commission condemning his own cause, delegates from countries like Netherlands, Scotland, Canada, Denmark, West Germany and New Zealand found themselves at liberty to oppose the motion recommending the sending of a team.
"Later in the plenary session Mr. Bernard Galvin of New Zealand was persuaded to withdraw his successful motion in the R.I.C. Commission—in view of the fact that the I.S.C. was sending an international delegation to countries including Czechoslovakia!"
These allegations are particularly serious. It is disappointing to find a New Zealand delegate acting in this way. What does Mr. Galvin know about Czechoslovakia- What does he know about Spain?
Another important point about I.S.C. is its finance. The organisation derives most of its finance from the Foundation of Youth and Student Affairs, New York. This Foundation is backed by certain wealthy Americans, one of whom is Mr. Neil McElroy, now United States Secretary of Defence. The fact that I.S.C. obtains its funds from such an organisation must, as Mr. Rahman points out, throw doubts on the Conference. Mr. Rahman adds "The question remains if the I.S.C. adopted a policy of co-operation and anti-cold war would these supplies (funds) continue?" He is of the opinion that they would not. Whether or not his view is correct it is clear that at least one neutralist has become suspicious of I.S.C. because of its financiers. Surely, if we, the students of the world, really want an international organisation that is clearly ours and ours alone we must be prepared to pay for it.
Do we really want an international student body? It might perhaps be suggested that the international student world is beset with the same great differences as there are in the world as a whole and that while these differences remain an international student body car achieve little. However, the writer is convinced that an international student organisation financed by students and only by students, and free from all political bias, could do much to produce better understanding among members of the younger generation who will inevitably be the leaders of their countries in the future. Certainly, the "monolithically partisan" I.U.S. is not the answer nor is the I.S.C. in its present form.