SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1935. Volume 6. Number 17.
This Peace Ballot
This Peace Ballot.
After careful consideration the New Zealand University Students' Association is launching a peace ballot throughout the University College of launching a peace ballot wholeheartedly. Never before has the N.Z.U.S.A. sponsored national student activity, on matters of such vital interest, and we applaud its debut from a seemingly total absorption in sports tours, important and pleasant though they may be. With the thunder of approaching war in Europe, and rumours of the re-introduction of compulsory miltary training in New Zealand, no more opportune moment could have been chosen for an expression of our opinion on this question. Public opinion is a material force in controlling the policies of governments and through the ballot we have an opportunity to show those in authority whether we agree with their avowed right to declare New Zealand to be at war whatever the reason, or whether we feel that they cannot use the flimsy pretexts of the past to hurl us into another Armageddon.
Questionaires are difficult to frame. This one avoids the danger of vagueness and the incorporation of two questions from the League of Nations Union ballot will enable an international comparison to be made. But there is one serious omission. The report of the meeting of the N.Z.U.S.A. reads: "There was considerable discussion as to whether questions on conscription and opposing war by means of strikes should be excluded on the ground of public policy. We wonder what perverted idea of "public policy" can have swayed the minds of those who sanctioned this omission. An obvious inference is that the intention behind the ballot is to commend rather than change public policy. This ballot is in no way propaganda; it is merely a concrete expression of student opinion. By the omission of these subjects an important section of opinion is gagged and the completeness of the ballot impaired. Students fight hard against College Councils and other authorities to preserve freedom of expression, only to find their own representatives applying the muzzle. If the man in the street is able to express his opinion on conscription and strikes to prevent war, why not the student?
Despite this defeat the ballot will still show the drive of modern thought at our Universities. It is our responsibility to mould the opinion of our time. This responsibility we must assume by answering the questions with sincerity and care.