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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 10. 1971

Salient Goes Fortnightly

Salient Goes Fortnightly

Last Thursday the Publications Board decided to publish Salient on a fortnightly basis for the rest of the year. The decision came from a vote of 4 to 2 (with 2 abstentions), after a critical discussion of Salient's role as a university paper and the quality of the issues so far. It is understood that another Publications Board meeting has been called to reverse this decision.

The main reasons given by the proponents of the change; Argot Editor, John Hales; Publications Officer, Dave Smith and Treasurers, Len Watson and Trevor Webb; were that it would mean a substantial saving to the Association and would give a greater selection of copy resulting in a higher quality publication.

Replying to these criticisms, the editor (Roger Cruickshank) said that it was not true that there would be a saving to the Association by such a move. He said that although some 53 percent of Publications Board finance came from student levies, a reduction in the number of issues would result in a corresponding reduction in advertising and other revenues. This would be balanced by increased printing costs from the publication of a (larger) fortnightly issue.

As far as the quality of copy was concerned, he said that while not totally satisfied with the copy so far, the selection of copy was a matter of editorial discretion and ultimately any dissatisfaction in the quality of copy could only be rectified by a change of editor, not a change in the frequency of publication.

Mr Hale's objection that the editorial staff were more engaged in technical duties (proof reading etc) than selection of copy was conceded by the editor because, he said, the nature of the typesetting made it imperative that each completed tape be immediately proof read and sent to the typesetters. During the first term the I.B.M. input operator employed by the Association worked irregular hours and it was impossible to arrange for an adequate proof reading staff. The main burden of purely technical work fell on the shoulders of editorial staff, so that time could not be spent on more extensive arrangement and selection of copy. This term, however, the input operator has been hired on a regular basis and it will be possible to co-ordinate proof reading and other technical work.

However, any disagreement with editorial policy, he reiterated, could only be overcome by an editorial change.

Reprinted below are two letters which illustrate this disagreement with editorial policy.

A Role for Salient

Student newspapers have the good fortune of freedom from commercial pressures. Their producers have an established income and a set output. With the profit motive removed, what role should they take? The post of editor is vital. It should be his responsibility to seek balance in what is published and present as accurate a reflection of the University community as possible.

The present editor of Salient shows no such inclination whatever. This year's paper has drifted along, varying in standard from a left-wing propoganda sheet to a third-rate comic album. A policy of publish what contributions appear would under normal commercial conditions lead to ruin. Why should the paid employee of students be allowed such laziness?

The major function of a newspaper should naturally enough be to print news. Not just subjective interpretations of events, but straight news. A weekly glance at the columns of Salient gives no true indication of what has been happening at the University. The editor's task should be to actively seek reports of the main events and present them in an objective way. Student politics has received next to no attention at all. The student newspaper should be the prime source of information about the running of the association. A dose of publicity might well bring forth more ac page break tivity from certain Executive members. In any case how can students be expected to elect representatives when they have no idea who they are. Lack of information makes apathy the easiest course.

A campus of 6000 must surely have people and activities interesting enough to write about. It should be the editor's task to look for such material.

In a community whose origin was the spirit of enquiry, Salient is particularly lacking in intellectual stimulus. The only controversy aroused this year has been over 'A Day for a Lay' and that only about whether it was worth printing. The existing style of journalism makes any serious contributions appear laughable. But there must be students any serious contributions appear laughable. But there must be students who would be prepared to write about subjects on which they feel strongly. Researchers might be encouraged to provide simplified accounts of their findings for instance. Again it is up to the initiative of the editor to find such people.

The antics of the Salient staff may have been amusing for the first few weeks, but now are merely tedious. Layout is little better than chaotic and the use of comic strip illustrations distracts from whatever content there is. Auckland's paper, Craccum manages with a very ordinary layout to present some worthwhile articles—the use of so much filling in Salient really indicates laziness on the part of the editor.

So the primary role of a student newspaper should be to create a sense of student identity. While there is campus material available the editor should prefer it to that syndicated from elsewhere. There are many other publications which can cater for that type of article. A student newspaper's prime responsibility should be student affairs.

But there is certainly a place for articles about the wider world. Issues of regional importance, and especially those which will affect students, such as rises in bus fares or the advance of the motorway are worth investigating. Salient can also afford to be more forceful in its criticisms than the two Wellington dailies. World issues like war and racism warrant coverage too, but preferably in conjunction with a conference or demonstration. The verbatim printing of overseas material is little better than useless.

If the editor has a particular viewpoint to hammer, then he can do so with a combination of editorial and feature articles. But his first duty should be to mirror the activity of the campus.

And it is worth remembering that the present editor receives an honorarium of $800 for the rag he produces. Or if cost per issue makes the situation more plain, each Salient you read costs you five cents. Are we really getting value?

R Norman.


Professionalism is not a Salient feature. In the great "Schoolboy mag" tradition the reader encounters a comic strip (last issue, two pages of them). No, not a clever satire, or a work of art, no even is it hilariously funny, as you might expect from 6,000 bright (?) university students. It is just so predictable each week, and the creator, like Mr Holyoake, is "unaware". I feel as sick as that blasted cat, and if I ever met him I would personally flush him down the toilet.

The rest of the paper is a load of biased rubbishing surely we know by now what Woman's Lib is, and all about Trotskyists and that shit does exist (on every page). How about something new, something that doesn't smell as much and is written in English that isn't so overworked and hackneyed that the words just lie on the page like neat rows of old worn out boots that have lost their kick.

Isn't there anyone at Vic who can write and think.

C'mon Victorians! Don't let Salient be run by Salien ians since "in the midst of our activity we have so little that is salient or characteristic of life".

John D. Kennelly

Goldstein on Interpol II

I have just read a letter published in your last issue by a student in International Politics II who, understandably, chooses to have his name withheld. He appears to be in a state of extreme distress and I regret that he has not attempted to talk with me in person, instead of resorting to the less than satisfactory means of communicating through an intermediary such as Salient. It is his means of communication which leads me to suspect that his intentions are not so much to seek assistance, as to attempt to gain support from among the other members of the class who may not agree with his opinion (these he calls 'ego-trippers', whatever that means). Be that as it may, his main criticisms boil down to the following: 1) the Political Science Department in general treats students like shit; 2) there is a complete lack of unity or co-operation amongst the staff running the International Politics II course; 3) the seven quizzes from a set text are a real cause of student unrest in the class; 4) the work-load expected is excessive.

Let me briefly answer this, not to silence Name Withheld, but, on the contrary, to encourage him to enter into a constructive dialogue with me regarding this course and the teaching of political science in general at this university. First, I am sincerely unaware of any member of our department treating any student as if he were a piece of excrement (although conservationists would no doubt consider such treatment to be praiseworthy). On the contrary, my academic experience in the United States, Australia and New Zealand leads me to believe that our department has a better staff-student relationship than most. Whether this is the case in International Politics II this year is another matter, and one to be treated below. Secondly, Name Withheld appears to so far fail to see any unity within the International Politcs II course. I am not sure what he means by unity, but if he means an understandable progression leading to increasing comprehension of the interrelationships among the components, then I think his judgment is both incorrect and premature. Incorrect because the course begins with an introduction to the contemporary international political system, focusing initially on the cold war period; then moves to discussion of problems of Australian and New Zealand foreign policy, next probes decision-making theory before examining one type of foreign-policy decision-crisis-exemplified in ten empirical case studies; concurrent with this portion, problems of international integration are treated, (this is where I agree with Name Withheld; this treatment, in an ideal course, would come in the last section dealing with theory and trends in the international political system - but time constraints and commitments of staff members preclude this this year); finally, the course looks at theoretical frameworks relevant to an analysis of foreign policy and changes in the international political system, and attempts to apply them to the empirical materials discussed in the earlier portions on Australian and New Zealand foreign policy problems, and the ten empirical crisis case studies. In short, the structure of the course does contain an understandable progression leading to increasing comprehension of the interrelationships among the components. His judgment is thus premature, because at a point in time when we are barely beginning a discussion of crisis cases, one cannot be expected to see the utility and limitations of various theoretical frameworks for the evaluation of crisis decision-making in foreign policy, much less for the evaluation of changes in the international political system. As for the charge of a lack of unity and cooperation among the staff teaching the course, I can assure Name Withheld that he is wrong. Professor Murphy, Dr Robinson, Mr Alley, Miss Pery-Johnston and I have an extremely good working relationship. The return of one member from refresher leave did complicate scheduling somewhat, but certainly not to the extent that Name Withheld suggests.

Thirdly, the seven quizzes are obviously a cause of some disillusionment in the class. In fact, even the 'ego-trippers' (whoever they may be) have made this plain, and one does not need to hide in a key hold anywhere and scrutinize faces in order to realise this. Yet, since it has been made clear that these quizzes do not constitute a major portion of the final grade (in fact, they are supplementary rather than primary components, and will only be taken into consideration when a student's grade is marginal). I cannot see why serious, conscientious students should find it so intolerable to be examined on seven segments of a paperback book, especially when the examination is spread over the entire academic year.

Fourthly, the work-load in this course is less than it has been at any time in the last three years. It consists of five essays and admittedly, extensive reading. The massive research paper which at one time was mandatory, is no longer required. And to the extent possible, reading materials have been provided free of charge to students. In my opinion, the work load is about right, although some of my colleagues are of the opinion that it could be increased. I am in charge of coordinating the course this year, and so the total workload expected (and seldom fulfilled) does reflect my preferences.

But I do not want to close this letter without treating some of the more disappointing innuendoes. Comparisons of attendance with lectures and tutorials with that of other stage two units is a futile exercise; experience shows that attendance varies with many factors, including the nature of the topic under discussion that day, the preparation done by the student, the "popularity" of the lecturer or tutor, the weather, the proximity of exams, etc. Furthermore, attendance in lectures is not mandatory, and tutorial rolls show that the slight drop-off at this time of year is a regular feature in the International Politics II unit every year. I might mention that, in my opinion, the class size is some-what too large to begin with, and some diminution is both inevitable and desirable.

But not effort is consciously being made to discourage attendance. To my knowledge, International Politcs II has never equalled the numbers of either History II or Political Science IIA, and to a certain extent, the structure of the political science offerings reduces the incentive of a student to concentrate on the study of international politcs.

Name Withheld warns that "The writing is on the wall!!!" I would ask him to please be more specific. Which wall? What writing? And why not speak up instead of hiding behind veiled threats, pitiful pleas, and obtuse obscenikties?

Ray F. Goldstein, Lecturer in Politcal Science

More disjointed somethings from the house on the hill

This is to tell all you chaps that we were a bit amazed by last week's drug crazed soul searching by Snelling and Neville. The latter of course has a fair standing in the shit and rock music scene which is about what the counter-culture is, counted as a political pressure group which is the only way anyone counts, believe it or not. They groove all over the world and they form a percentage of every European—work that out—community. Even from these antipodean perspectives they sometime have a vague idea what goes on. So we are inescapably led to the conclusion that something is radically wrong in this scene. Could it be that we don't know enough? That is about scenes like history. The original happy movement was a bizarre application of acid to the problem of what to do about all the problems. All these bastards copped out of the energy business unless bread was concerned except a few political freaks and they haven't set a very good example either.

Dealing and music are at least sometimes rewarding to the people they entertain but politics doesn't entertain anyone except lunatics who think they're heavy enough to merit everybody else's attention. So? Neville and his chum find that this L.B.J. stuff not only doesn't effect any chromosomal changes, but that it might be better if it had. And they hold up their little stranglers and scream! Fuck, this disillusion scene has been done before, chaps, but never so crassly. What the sane individual needs in these vexed times is less acid and more effort. There's no need to keep acid illegal but it's obvious that however it's handled it better be carefully. There's no reason why a sane person shouldn't trip when he wants to, provided he Really wants to and is sane, and that doesn't leave as many as you'd think. But our welfare service including such celebrated, nay, august progressives as [unclear: are] are right behind us in our Strenuous Efforts to get grass legalized. If anyone really wants to organize the obvious people to get at are the breweries, because in ten or twelve years Every-Body in this little country is going to be smoking dope. By then, even here, whatever impossible sort of government we have is going to have to think about legalizing smack, because it's not out of the question that a thirdor so of the population will be addicted to it; it has happened before. Turkey and China aren't in very good shape but Opium has been effectively legal in both these countries at times in history and they are still, in a sense, there on the map, with a population and sanitation and assassination and all that shit. They adapted to it in the curious way that the human animal has, although it's hard to see how we can evolve out of the present state of affairs fast enough. The root of the problem that is fatuously called the generation gap is that a proportion of the population is privileged in political and economic power and the other half knows too much—mainly about the wrong things, and hardly ever about the things that might help them Think about the shit of a situation they're in: Who made it is irrelevant.

some head(s)

Film Reviews

Yippee! I've read seven years of student newspaper film reviews and never written a letter; i read my first issue of "Salient" (it said so on the cover) and launch into a diatribe.

It's about your film review page. I'm very impressed with M. Heath. Never have I read so much bullshit in such concentration. How lucky we are to have a film critic who can crap on for so long and say so much about himself, so little about films. But what really hoses me off isn't so much what he produces as how it comes out.

We all expect published film columns to display ignorance, bias and cheap linguistic thrills. But this one is unintelligible too—an unforgiveable sin.

Your reviewer discharges words in great deafening liquid torrents. His language is half-digested. The effect is pat, but messy.

I hope he wipes his mouth between issues.

C.J. Matthews.