Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 40 No. 11. May 23 1977
Councils usually start amicably enough; chief delegates sitting around the ring of tables exchanging pleasantries, their delegations huddled behind them ready to rise in defence when necessary.
After bumbling through meeting procedure and an abortive attempt to discuss arrangements with the media, the reports of the National Officers, eight in all, were discussed.
The President, Lisa Sacksen, presented and spoke briefly to a report which rambled through areas both far and wide. When speaking to her report, Ms Sacksen commented on things which were not contained in it. This, I am led to believe, is common practice and in fact, all other officers did likewise. It does, however, demonstrate clearly that the writing of a report cannot achieve more than a brief dealing with the randomly selected activities of the officers concerned.
Although the President in speaking to her report covered the Royal Commission on C.S. & A, Arts Council (perhaps for the last time) and the International Students' Congress, her main thrust was the structure of NZUSA and its relationships with its members.
She described NZUSA as resembling "a pregnant elephant reclining in a deck chair" meaning that the eight person national office was performing tasks at the request of the constituent campuses and councils without having much in the way of a direct link with, what Bruce Gully the Auckland President
Lisa's solution is stronger constituent Associations such as full-time Vice-President as well as Presidents for each Students' Association. Whether this would actually strengthen grass-root participation is doubtful and would probably just transfer the pregnant elephant effect to the campus level. The most progressive trend in this area is that the idea of an "open SRC", similar to that which V.U.W.S. A. has got, is growing in popularity. Auckland have just set up such a structure and one or two other campuses were making noises about an open SRC at Council.
Basically, if you don't have campus democracy, then you don't get campus involvement.
Mike Shaskey, Education Vice-President gave his report — a lengthy but entertaining document which dwelled on the relationship of the NZUSA National Office to its constituent campuses. He placed importance on the solving of the "us and them" problem i.e. the distrust of the National office by the various student associations. Certainly there is evidence of this phenomena; for example the motion from Auckland to decrease the voting power of the National Officers on the National Executive. It was also Auckland who attempted to rap National Office over the knuckles for the resignation of the International Vice-President, Paul Watson. But more on that later.
David Tripe, the General Vice-President gave his report which included a moan about the wide varieties of areas that the GVP is supposed to action. These include student welfare and accommodation, women's rights and national affairs such as energy policy, foreign control of New Zealand and keeping an eye on legislation being passed in Parliament. So far David Tripe has handled these areas reasonably well and apart from women's rights, has provoked little complaint from constituents.
International Vice-President, Paul Watson was the last political officer to give his report. Before he rose to speak to it, Lindy Cassidy, Victoria chief delegate moved that the report be not accepted. The reasons were that the report did not accurately reflect his work since his coming into office at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, several of the other delegations were upset at Vic's brash tactics and a motion was carried that the report be tabled till final Plenary. Throughout the four days, three emergency meetings of the seven constituent presidents were held to discuss the matter and the way it should be handled. The report was eventually received at final plenary, but soon after, Paul Watson resigned.
After an enthralling and lucid report from Peter Franks the NZUSA Research Officer and reports from the Managing Directors of STB, Students Services Moldings Ltd and the Chairperson of NZSAC, Council broke into Commissions to discuss the various remits.