Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 13 June 18, 1968
June 18, 1968
Opinions expressed in Salient are not necessarily those of VUWSA.
Abhorrence of secrecy is the traditional attitude of academics because valid views depend on full knowledge.
It epitomises the hypocrisy of the university situation that it is governed by a system of secret committees whose effect is to stop the possibility of discussion on a" problem until it has been decided how to deal with it.
The deliberations of committees of the University Council result in recommendations to the Council which remain secret until they are reported to the Council for acceptance or rejection. It has not occurred to anyone that discussion and evaluation of the recommendations of these committees, by the people they are designed to service, could be helpful before a final decision is made.
And now the new Joint Committee on Student Participation is to be closed.
One member, the President of the Students' Association, has twice said that members "might be scared to change their minds" if the committee met in public. This is a statement that would seem somewhat curious in its timidity, even if it did not proceed from the man who, carrying the banner of Danny Cohn-Bendit, is leading this University to Student Power.
If the true reason, as some members have suggested, is that the Managing Secretary of the Student Union and the students' caterer are to be discussed, then let them have the right to an open discussion; if it is because the student members might be persuaded to make great concessions, let them concede openly.
Secrecy has had not only the predictable disadvantage of making any substantial communication between the committee and the outside world, impossible, but has seriously undermined the prestige of the committee among students.
The original Students' Association proposal was for a committee of equal student and council representation. At the request of the Council four additional members were appointed—members of the Professorial Board. Now that students are so heavily outweighed on the committee, other students need to be assured that they will not be entirely browbeaten. Only the possibility of popular scrutiny will suffice.