Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 5. 1965.
Half-hearted, Bubling, Indecisive — That Exec
Half-hearted, [unclear: Bu]bling, Indecisive — [unclear: That] Exec
Sirs,—The one day boycott of lectures, proposed by a group of students on or about the week beginning March 22 was considered by a special meeting of executive and met with unanimous support— in principle. Another meeting (SGM) was held on the Wednesday evening to enlist the support or hear the disapproval of interested students. The unheard of number of 1000 students attended, of whom approximately 600 voiced approval of the scheme, giving a fair indication of the unprecedented strong support that students were willing to give, then and there.
However the initial impact of this basically sound scheme was largely cancelled by a paradoxical reticence and indecision from Executive to carry out the proposal as soon as possible. This reticence and general delaying was apparent in a newsheet issued the next day: "... a boycott will be held at a date and place to be decided on (but not now) by Executive ..."
A lack of strength and decision was obvious in the dull, formal request "All students are asked (please?) to support this decision of the SGM."
From the outset, the 1800-[unclear: od] part-time students were more [unclear: a] less written off by a member of the Executive because "he did not think they would be interested [unclear: in] the idea". Two different sets [unclear: o] news sheets, distributed in a rather desultory way, managed to [unclear: attrac] an almost reasonable student response, but coverage of "boycott aims on tv and radio was [unclear: meag] and press reports were skimpy and condemnatory. Thus the [unclear: publ] apathy to student problems remained, and any sympathy shown by the public returned to [unclear: norma] before the week was out. The whole running of "boycott" immediately following the SGM reeked in fact of the bumbling "Too many chiefs' bureaucracy for which New Zealand administration is renowned.
Better results could have been obtained with a fairly quick implementation of the boycott policy brought about by a vigorous, [unclear: mill]tant, more active enlistment of student support and better public relations. Such action would have been more effective and reasonable than the half-hearted leaflet distribution, personal harangues and plants of an "help the old folks campaign, even before any sign [unclear: o] analisation of "boycott" had been [unclear: dicated].
Public opinion in New Zealand [unclear: n] any controversial issue is at a [unclear: ry] low ebb. but to student [unclear: monstrations], especially in Wellington it is downright hostile. [unclear: ost] Cabinet Ministers are, or [unclear: ve] shrewd interpreters of public opinion, and the initial failure of executive to arouse public opinion on the boycott issue as soon noticed by the Minister of Education (Mr. [unclear: insella]) who forthwith and in the [unclear: me] newspapers that student [unclear: evances] were published issued a [unclear: ess] statement picking out alleged [unclear: screpancies] in the first news sheet. This statement was printed [unclear: st]-haste by Wellington's Yes Man newspapers containing the usual [unclear: llque], pro bono publico statements to justify their early [unclear: conmnations] of the boycott and by the end of the week an ever-[unclear: gulble] public had all but forgotten the vague notion of rebellion "Upon the Hill"
On the following Monday, the [unclear: oycott] issue still smouldered, and [unclear: moured], chalked and printed [unclear: inuendo] drifted around the campus. [unclear: uesday] produced a burst of life, when an oft - seen blue - jeaned sensationalist screamed "April the 9th" and exhorted the crowd to raise "bloody Hell", but action was sadly lacking.
Recent demonstrations in Morroco (sic) and at Berkley (viz Salient March 17) by students, has brought the faults of New Zealand student action sharply into focus. Pacifist and conservative students strongly oppose such decisive action, but if "orderly marches" and letters of protest bring no results, as has been the case in the past, then it seems that more militant action is the sine qua non of improvements in conditions for students.
The boycott issue was still a strong starting point, but tost its initial strength through an unwillingness to implement it in a reasonably short time. The onus, of course, was placed on the Executive, but in the early stages, it failed to be a strong leader and decisive implementation which most students expect of it, was lacking. Unless Student Associations, and in particular Student Executives are more effective leaders, New Zealand students will continue to suffer hardship and national subordinance.
R. J. Gooder.