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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 14 July 6, 1938

Freedom of Speech?

Freedom of Speech?

Well, here are the questions and answers:—

(1) What are your views on freedom of speech in the University? For instance, what do you think of the ban on sex and religion debates at V.U.C.?

"In a University it is essential that there should be the widest possible extent of freedom of speech. The reason for this is that the end and pulse of University education is the discovery of truth and the broadening of the bounds of knowledge. There are, of course, legal limitations such as those prescribed by the law relative to defamation, sedition and blasphemy. There are also those other less clearly defined limitations which are indicated by good sense, and good taste. In a University more perhaps than in other places, where the highest standard is so eminently desirable, free discussion should have due regard to those bounds which our sound judgment prescribes. Debates upon religions topics may well do more harm than good for the reason that most people hold to their religious ideals as matters of faith and conviction and the amount of emotional feeling—even bitterness—which such debates engender tends to destroy that very corporate life which it is no small part of University education to foster. Free discussion of sex matters would as a rule produce very few beneficial results and would tend to do more harm than good; I think that such discussions can produce good results only if they are conducted on [unclear: strickly] scientific lines and under responsible direction."

(2) Do you think students should be allowed representation on the College Council?

"Yes certainly, but on certain conditions. For a long time I was strenuously opposed to the idea. My reason was that when first mooted the scheme provided that the students might choose either a graduate or an undergraduate and their representative was to have full voting rights. I thought, and still think, that it would be a mistake to have on the Council a young student who would have a complete knowledge of private matters affecting the staff and internal discipline generally. It seems to me, however, that if the representative was required to be a graduate of two years standing at the least, he would be in a good position to put forward the student viewpoint and I can see many reasons why he should have full voting rights."

(3) Who was responsible for the formation of the Association?

"The Association was founded by a small group of four or five citizens; the idea was put before a group of some 40 or 50 business men and others and was formally adopted by this group and put into operation."