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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 18. 27th July 1972

Right to Decide

Right to Decide


Last Tuesday I had helped to buy a package of bandages to dress wounds of people in a certain Asian country. The amount of money was trivial. I had paid bigger sums to the Vietnam Medical Appeal Fund before. But this time I objected to paying. This time it was not a contribution from me as an individual who had decided himself that the cause is a good one and should be given money to. "I" had given merely by virtue of having paid - for entirely different purposes than the one above - membership fees of a certain organisation.

As I think the cause is a worthy one I do not object to paying this money, but I do object to having been made to pay it. For majority of those who voted for the motion it was a matter of conscience. But conscience is a private thing. It cannot be substituted by governmental decrees or the Collective Conscience of VUWSA - rather a doubtful phenomenon anyway - or anything else.

And the argument heard at the SGM, that the Association can spend money as it pleases because it has the support of majority of students is in essence exactly the same one as that saying that the National Government can use tax money - including mine - on killing people in Vietnam, because it has the support of the majority of New Zealanders. Most of those who voted for the donation would support OHMS too. If they can consider the private principles of those who oppose military service as more important than the mandatory regulations and laws of this country, then they should afford the same right to decide individually to those students in this university whose political and moral convictions differ from theirs.

Vladimir Halama

[A donation of $2 for the Medical Aid Appeal was received with this letter)