Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 2. 1963.
Of all the misrepresentational, factually-distorted editorials it has been my misfortune to read. R.J.B.'s' (on the co-option of Miss Jill Shand to the Students' Executive takes the biscuit. It was misinformed; it was distorted; it was syllogistically ludicrous; and it is not what one expects from a 'Salient' editorial.
Recapturing briefly: the writer's premises were that Miss Shand was a first year student and therefore incapable of executive responsibilty; that she did not present herself as a candidate at the annual Executive elections, and that those persons who did present themselves as candidates should have received first preference for co-option to the Executive body; that the Executive acted in an under-hand manner 'because they wanted someone of their own persuasion, a nice, safe, doesn't - speak - at - the - wrong - time - person,' to use R.J.B.'s words. Let us examine these assertions in the light of what really occurred; then each individual member of this Association can interpret these facts in the way in which he chooses.
Merely because a person is a first-year student, does this preclude them having the ability to tackle—and tackle successfully—Executive responsibility? This is a stupid standpoint, the logical collateral being that all Third, Fourth and Fifth-year students will have such ability as is apparently lacking in 'Freshers'. To me this position is untenable, and the first of R.J.B.'s unwarrantable assertions dissolves.
The writer then raises the partially valid point concerning the apparent passing over of those students who did present themselves at the previous election, in favour of Miss Shand. The point is that the position as to the vacancy of the Cultural Affairs Portfolio was advertised on Student Notice Boards, and only two nominations were put forward. The Executive body, in the normal way expressed a preference for one of the two candidates. As there were only two nominations (not surprising since it was Just before Finals) the obvious question is, where were all the "hundreds of senior students who would by their experience alone be more capable to handle the Cultural Affairs Portfolio": the truth is, that with Finals on their hands, these persons were just not interested.
The second assertion of R.J.B. facts, as did the first, into triviality. Finally, R.J.B. asserts that the Executive wanted someone of their own persuasion'; I am not prepared to argue what that persuasion is, since in my opinion, most shades of student opinion are represented, from the 'radical to the reactionary'. In order that may clarify the interpretation I place on this assertion of R.J.B.'s, it could be noted that two days after the current issue of "Salient" appeared. Miss Shand was circulating a Petition to 'preserve Extravaganza', an issue which the Executive pronounced adversely upon at its previous meeting; this hardly seems the action of a 'safe, doesn't-speak-at-the-wrong-time-person.'
As a concluding remark I could note what is a personal opinion: the purpose of this editorial was to criticise the Executive, and the co-option of Miss Shand was used as a rather primitive tool. It is certainly healthy to see and hear the Executive criticised; but such criticism should be informed and intelligent, especially when it is, apparently. Editorial opinion: in the case under consideration, and for the above reasons. I submit that such was most definitely not the case.—
Peter J. Blizard.