Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 5. 1965.
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.
Nordy's Support Worthless
Sirs,—Let fellow students not be deceived by the assurances of Mr. Nordmeyer, when, in political tones, he insisted that we should obtain action as a result of our protest march.
Of course he congratulated us on our orderly behaviour. Not even the opposition would like to be embarrassed by a bunch of irresponsible students. Standing at the foot of the steps. I felt like a distraught child being pacified by fatherly tones and head patting. I wonder how many of my Kindergarten colleagues were convinced?
But let us consider this rationally. One thousand five hundred students marched slowly and in orderly procession, four abreast, some carrying banners, to the beat of a drum. Their earnestness was impressive in itself. Well organised and controlled, they gathered at the steps of Parliament building, placards in front. A deputation was sent to find the Prime Minister, but who should they escort out—not the Prime Minister. Mr. Holyoake, and not the Minister of Education, Mr. Kinsella, but the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Nordmeyer, who had been Asked by Mr. Holyoake to receive the petition.
As was expected, Labour Party support was offered (for all it is worth at present), a few subtle remarks about the absence of Mr. Holyoake and Mr. Kinsella were made, the petition presented, and the students dispersed in an orderly fashion, as asked by Exec. Of course, it was in the interests of the Opposition to offer support. They are not running the country.
Surely if the Honourable Mr. Holyoake had considered our peaceful demonstration an important enough political issue, he would have come himself, or at least sent a representative of his own party. He must have realised that Labour Party support would have been promised. But the National Party Cabinet was engaged in a caucus meeting, and a caucus meeting is a round-table discussion to decide future policy, and future policy includes investigation and action about student grievances. Caucus was far too important for any member, let alone the Prime Minister, to be absent from for half an hour. Supposing that the meeting was too important to interrupt, they must have had a lunch hour, or a break which would have coincided with the arrival of the students' deputation!
No, I am afraid that I am not convinced that any action will be taken, and certainly not immediate action. If we want to achieve our aims, which Mr. Nordmeyer assures us are worthy, more action on the part of students, and probably more spectacular action will have to be taken very soon.—
Sirs,—G. L. D. Morris asks in issue 4 of Salient if anyone can better his effort in running from the university to the railway station in 11 minutes. Starting from the Student Union Building I have covered the distance in seven minutes. I am sure that anyone who is both (1) fit, and (2) in a hurry to catch a train, could easily beat this. I qualified only on the second point.—I am, etc.,
J. D. Harlow.
Sirs,—A University is meant to be a place of truth, thus one can only be amazed by the vagueness of the editorial. "The Quid Kids."
"Penzance," the Sunday News political correspondent. Rumoured to be a Labour MP, reports a Rumour that local press barons (who are these barons?) are bargaining with the Government over the now quelled Thomson affair.
These "balance sheet oglers," as a result of these "rumoured" bargains, will be permitted to "turn an automatic profit in the field of broadcasting" against the NZBC when they have already created a vast wasteland in the current press field.
In this vast wasteland the press presents "a uniform view of New Zealand"—what is a uniform view of New Zealand?
This editorial suggests that the Press will be allowed to compete with the NZBC and will then gain an "automatic profit."
Because the writer opposes this move, he infers that competition is horrifying.
Worst of all, the writer asks the New Zealand Press to stop suppressing stories on certain subjects when he gives no backing for this statement whatsoever.
Sirs,—In his letter headed "Incompetent" (Salient 4), Geoff Palmer asserts that "Reporting is concerned with fact, with events, with news—not with comment, interpretation and analysis."
One of the instructions to reporters contained in the Salient style book issued when Mr. Palmer was Editor was to put the most important fact in the first paragraph of any news story. A reporter cannot do this without exercising Judgment. Likewise, if a report is not to be unlimited in length, the reporter must omit some facts—also requiring judgment. The reporter must choose the words that constitute the report—and his choice of words obviously affects the meaning of the report. All these choices are personal—no two reporters will make the same decisions, so a news report will contain the Interpretation (intentional or otherwise) of the reporter, editor, sub-editor and anyone else who works on it.
The myth of editorial impartiality seems to have led Mr. Palmer into the fallacious implication that another source of national news would be a Bad Thing. Another source of news would simply contain another set of judgments, or if Mr. Palmer prefers it, distortions. It would also give readers an opportunity to discover some of these distortions by simply comparing reports. This is possible at the moment only in the case of local news and some national news.
Apart from his criticisms of Salient, which I support, the remainder of Mr. Palmer's letter is poorly reasoned or irrelevant. The NZBC's application to join the NZPA does not prove that the Corporation thinks competition in news gathering undesirable. The Corporation may only think it more expensive. And how does the fact that overseas news comes into NZ from a wide number of sources affect the issue of monopoly, when as Mr. Palmer says, "all this news is assembled and edited in Australia"?
Sirs,—The writer of your regular feature "Brestow" has made it painfully apparent that he totally lacks artistic ability, satiric skill, and a sense of humour. The facial expressions of his cretinous cartoon character seldom alter—indeed, they are childish in presentation. His "message," furthermore, is irritatingly obvious, and the whole thing is an ill-conceived space-waster.
"Thurbage," another regular article in Salient, began well, but has sadly deteriorated. A once humorous feature has lapsed into a personal sneer column for the author, who, I suggest, should continue his articles in collaboration with Sy Carter, who has also run out of things to say.
Are these appalling features to be inflicted on readers for the remainder of the year?
M. C. Mitchell