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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 4 April 17, 1946

Crisis in the College

Crisis in the College


We claim our right to reply to the criticism in the last issue of "Salient," and submit the following statement.

A. Mr. Cohen's Statement.

1.Mr. Cohen states that he was not instructed to reply on certain lines. On the evening the offending statement appeared Mr. Cohen admitted to Mr. Poole before other Exec. members that he had been instructed to apologise on the Executive's behalf.
2.Mr. Cohen regards the truth as a "trivial matter." We do not. Nor do we so regard the deliberate flouting of the Executive's expressed wish.
3.Mr. Poole instructed the permanent Secretary, Miss Peterson, to notify members of the meeting. Mr. Cohen omits to state that Miss Paterson made numerous attempts to locate Mr. Cohen on the Friday, and that it was no fault of Mr. Poole's that he could not be notified before Monday.
4."Disrupting the activities of the Association." If we were doing this at the busy time of the year we should not be re-elected. But this is not the case. Every signatory is carrying on the duties he has undertaken as actively as he has in the past. The Tournament Delegates continued to work to midnight or 1 a.m., and all day Sundays, and the Extravaganza Officials will be no less enthusiastic than they were. Messrs. Cohen, Taylor and McArley are still going to the NZUSA Conference at Christchurch.

We resigned to protect our personal honour, because we will not be officially associated with a person who published a deliberate lie in the name of the Association, but neither will we allow our resignations to interfere with our other duties to the Association.

B. The Commentary.

Once again "Salient" has misreported a person with whose views they disagree. Mr. Ting was not in favour of withdrawing the motion.

C. The Editorial.

1.Three members who voted for the motion were co-opted, but students will note that every officer of the Association on the Executive resigned except the President.
2.The Editorial states that the letter should have been ignored. In our opinion the honour of appointment as a Life-Member of the Association carries with it the duty of criticising the present members although not much weight will be given to remarks expressed as extravagantly as those of Mr. de la Mare". It were better that we carry on our correspondence till Doomsday than that we should lie to dispose of it.
3.The Editor calls a deliberate lie, the flouting of the Executive wishes and the slur on a previous Executive a "minor error." We do not.
4.We have not "disrupted the student body a week before Tournament." Everything is going just as it did except that there has been an extra issue of "Salient." The Extravaganza Controller, Mr. Cohen, might however, explain why the Extrav. rehearsals will have to be crammed into the totally inadequate time of a fortnight.

M. J. Poole, Secretary; G. McArley, Treasurer; D. Stan. Campbell. Asst. Secretary; D. Steele, Asst. Treasurer; R. M. Daniell, Vice President; Vivienne Rich, Vice President; Alison Keys, I. Ting.

¶ With respect to A1, an extract from the minutes of the Exec. meeting, March 31: "Moved, Mr. Campbell, seconded Mr. Ting, that a letter be written to Mr. de la Mare giving him our defence." This should answer A2 and makes us wonder what "truth" means to the framers of the letter.

¶ A3.—The fact that Miss Paterson did not contact Mr. Cohen before Monday is hardly an excuse for the inefficiency of the Secretary. The Constitution explicitly states that all members must be notified at least 48 hours before a meeting.

¶ A4.—This is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for the Exec. Yet the activities of Extrav and Tournament officials are being unnecessarily diverted into contesting an election.

¶ The Commentary was taken direct from the official notes made at the meeting.

* C1 is correct—the implication is left to the reader.

* C2 is adequately answered in the editorial of this issue.

* C4.—If Mr. Poole worked on "Salient" staff he would surely not say this. Also, how can the Extrav. Controller possibly be held responsible for the delay in writing the script? A fortnight for rehearsals has been all the College has had for many years pre-war. It is regrettable that the framers of the letter should descend to this level of abuse.

Dear Sir,—

As returned servicemen, we wish to place on record our opinion of the present "crisis" in the affairs of the Executive.

To us the whole issue appears quite childish. There is no doubt that an error was made by Mr. Cohen, but it seems to us that the circumstances warranted nothing more than a vote of censure.

At the busiest time of the year we expect our Executive to work harmoniously in meeting the problems and commitments of Tournament, Extravaganza, etc. As Secretary, Mr. Poole must have realised that his motion would mean the dissolution of the Executive, and we deplore his action accordingly as irresponsible and illustrating a failure to understand his obligations to the Students' Association.

(Signed below are the names of 65 returned servicemen.)

Stupid or Insincere?

Are the instigators of the move, which has earned this College the worst possible type of publicity with the general public (at a time when we are preparing to appeal to them for money) stupid or insincere? It is apparent that they must be one or the other, as it was amply pointed out that an election at this time must necessarily have repercussions which can be forseen but which cannot be curbed.

If the prime movers in this are sincere then they must be very shortsighted and stupid. You have only to view the results for yourselves.

If they are not stupid then it follows that they must be insincere for the same reason as above.

In granting sincerity we must also assume stupidity, and it is up to you to judge whether such people are your fit representatives on the Exec. of the Association.

If, however, they are not stupid, then this is not the main issue at stake and their assertions at the meeting, and since in print, that it is, prove them insincere, which is unforgiveable. We must then look for the real reason for this colossal upset. If personal pettiness, then a deplorable lack of a responsible attitude to the position which they hold is indicated. The rumours, completely unfounded, which are emanating (I am assured of this) from these people seem to indicate that this is the case. Some of these rumours, for whom sources are quoted, are extremely libellous and completely unworthy of consideration; the rest simply ridiculous. There appears to be one other possibility as a reason and that is that a group is attempting to play power politics and it does not seem necessary to comment on that.

The issue at stake is not whether the President's action was right or wrong—he has said himself that he realises that it was wrong—the point for your consideration is whether you want representatives who are capable of running student affairs without petty personal prejudices and consequent bickering, or not.

"Pro Bono Discipilorum."

Dear Sir,—I should like space to congratulate "Salient" on publishing a full account of the regrettable puerility that resulted in the dissolution of the Executive at such an inconvenient time. The publication of Mr. Poole's and Mr. Cohen's statements together with a concise report should help to combat the mushroom growth of malicious rumours that are being circulated through the College.

While a certain amount of emotional appreciation could be worked up for George Washington sob-stuff, I feel sure that any appreciation must stop there. If we grant that the movers of the motion are competent to represent the students on the Executive then it must follow that there is a far wider issue-at stake, because no intelligent person, intent on pursuing the interests of the student body, would deliberately break up the Executive immediately prior to student activities at Christchurch for Tournament and in Wellington for Building Fund Appeals. This fracas has resulted not only in a split in the student body but also in a decided loss of prestige with the Wellington public.

It is hardly likely that the public will reward apparent irresponsible imbecility with a large donation to build a Students' Union.

A motion of censure was in order but a vote of no-confidence and a threat of resignation, should the motion be defeated, is indicative of either irresponsible selfish stupidity or of questionable intent undefined. I feel sure that the Students' Association must censure such an outstanding lack of appreciation of the effect of such an action on the Association.

To adopt Mr. Poole's philosophy—Dave confessed his "sin," but who is Mr. Poole to deny him absolution?

Marie Mashall.—

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Dear Sir,—The explanation given by Mr. Cohen for the tardy publication of the letter from Mr. F. A. de la Mare which appeared in your issue of April 3rd cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged.

These are the facts of the case. Mr. de la Mare's letter, written to "Salient" and dated May, 1945, was referred to the Executive and was considered at a meeting on July 16, when Mr. Cohen was in the chair. It was agreed to publish the letter, together with a reply from the Executive, and Mr. Cohen was instructed to carry out this decision.

Unfortunately the matter was overlooked and the letter was neither published or acknowledged. In March of this year Mr. de la Mare sought to discover what action was being taken and wrote to the Executive, Professorial Board and Council. My first knowledge of the letter came when it was discussed at the March meeting of the Council, and I immediately took steps to see that the Executive was aware of the position.

I am at a loss to explain why Mr. Cohen should cause this obvious falsehood to be published over his name, and I strongly resent the statement that the failure to publish Mr. de la Mare's letter was the fault of the 1944-1945 Executive, of which I was Secretary.

—Yours, etc.

Ian McDowall, Council Representative.