Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 13. September 24, 1947

The Conference was Lengthy and Needed Interpreters

The Conference was Lengthy and Needed Interpreters

All the Council delegates were housed in the Zitova Kolej, a fine modern building, hostel for Yugoslav students in Prague. The sleeping arrangements were not very good (many people used kilos of DDT driving off bedbugs) and the food rather dull, but the general organisation of meetings was excellent. We met in the gymnasium of a nearby school, a very suitably sized room, with desks for each delegataion.

The best job of the meeting was done by the interpreters, of whom the chief, Susie, spoke about six languages fluently, and contributed greatly to the success of the Council. Every speech had to be translated into English, French or Russian, which dragged out the proceedings, but gave time for taking notes or thinking in between. On the whole, however, English was the most usual language (sometimes in an almost unrecognisable form) which was an advantage to' many of us. Apart from the actual speeches, we received copies of numerous reports, resolutions, comments, etc., which were cyclostyled and distributed twice a day, forming a concrete skeleton for discussion.

Some of the Delegates

The delegates, 94 of them, from 42 countries, were as motley a crew as you could hope to find. They included Chinese, a Cuban, Indonesians, Albanians, a Mongolian, etc. not to mention all the European countries. When we sat. down for a meal, we never quite knew who was going to sit next to us, but there was never any sign of discrimination or personal dissension. Indeed, more valuable than the actual formal meetings were the social contacts in free hours. We worked very hard, all day and most evenings, for two days longer than we Intended, but there was stir time for some visits to the Featival concerts and two magnificent receptions, and an enormous amount of Information about our respective countries was swapped. I was very, amused, for example to hear, one dinner time, a very shrewd American Catholic girl pumping the Indonesian delegate about the number of Communists in his government. A small item perhaps, but it may have its effect when Sally returns to the States.

The highlight of the Conference, to my mind, was the impromptu "party in a local pub, one evening after a busy day. We were each 'singing our national songs to the accompaniment, of cheering, clapping and shouting, when John Redrup from Australia and Orest Sheftsov from the Ukraine came in, and announced that they had come to an agreement about a particularly important resolution. We insisted on a song, and they immediately chanted the whole resolution to us, sub-clauses and all. It is a pity UNO can't do the same.

Powers Defined

Of the actual work of the Council it is difficult to speak briefly. In fact speaking briefly was not a characteristic of many of the delegates and it will take some time sorting through my notes to prepare a full report for NZUSA before I can see it in perspective. The best work done seems to have been in obtaining new contacts and membership. In the USA a national student union may soon be formed directly as a result of IUS and the World Students' Congress. From China we now have two delegates, one from each region, instead of the embassy-appointed stooges of last year. Several resolutions have clarified certain points in the constitution in such a way as to make it much easier for certain countries to come in and stay in. It was recognised, for instance, that the Executive has effectively no power to compel a national organisation against its wishes; only the Council can debate and decide in such a case. The political activities of IUS were also carefully defined in terms of the special needs of students. (This was the work of John Redrup, the Australian, who has been elected to the Executive, and who can do a grand job for IUS in the Pacific area.) We discussed formulated principles and activities concerned with the demo-cratisation of the Universities, and with the needs of colonial students. In this work, in particular, we are sending commissions to many countries, Germany, Greece, the Middle

page break

East, to investigate conditions on the spot. We divide in two to discuss the work of the various departments of IUS: Travel and Exchange, Press and Information, Economic, Social and Health, Sports, Intellectual Cooperation, and Relief and Reconstruction. The proposed plans were in the main approved, with some practical additions. We had considerable discussions on finance and on the budget, and on the work of the Secretariat.