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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 7. April 20th, 1950

Victoria a step ahead when ... — NZUSA Studies Student Needs

Victoria a step ahead when ...

NZUSA Studies Student Needs

The Annual Conference of the N.Z. University Students' Association held in Christchurch during the Easter Tournament saw Victoria (represented by Chris Pottinger, Pip Piper and Barbara Holm, with Con Bollinger and Jeanette Murray as observers), alone plugging a consistent line for the real needs of students. But by dint of sporadic support from other colleges, she managed to revive in NZUSA a liberal policy on bursaries, scholarships, Congress, hostels, academic freedom and relations with the International Union of Students—although Congress remits regarding WEDY, the Peace Manifesto, and free expression in student papers were dealt with rather summarily.

Under the eminently fair chairmanship of beefy President Bruce Miller, flanked by Treasurer Kevin O'Brien and Secretary Pauline Michael, Conference opened Friday morning. First issue to crop out of the minutes was whether the Drinking Horn should be abolished from tournament. It was resolved that it should remain if unofficial, orderly and with minimum publicity. Auckland President, thick, sardonic Michael Brittain, informed that Student Labour Federation organ "Student Vanguard" had accused NZUSA of not making public adequate reasons for disaffiliating from the I.U.S. AUCSA had demanded an apology, but Lincoln delegates led conference in vindicating SLF attitude.

College reports indicated that Vic was most active in maintaining connections with overseas organisations. She was also congratulated on completing the Building Fund. Canterbury's Health Scheme aroused much interest—compulsory X-ray of students by the Chest Clinic—and VUC suggested it might be made the basis of a national system, but AUC was truculently "not interested." Massey had been agitating for student representation on the College Council, and, with Price Control Division's help, against extortionate hostel rates.

VUC's vague suggestion that NZUSA hold a comprehensive Arts Festival embracing drama, debating and music was referred back for more concrete proposals. No truck was held with the idea of blues awards for drama or debating.

Massey was very vocal for its right to challenge VUC teams in all sports (including un-co-operative cricketeers and shooters) to give them a chance of representation at tournament as part of Vic teams.

Congress Ho!

Congress proved a hornet's nest. Canterbury and Otago won their way that it be held mid-February if possible. AUC announced that they were only going to pay £5 to the outfit this year as so few Aucklanders went. This evoked a violent attack from Victoria's Pottinger. Mills, tall big-jawed CUC President, said it was "Only human decency" for AUC Exec to give a lead among students in supporting Congress!

It was decided to publish as many Congress 1950 addresses as possible. General agreement met the suggestion to stick to Curious Cove and a population of 140, and that sessions be run according to NZUSA standing orders. President Miller: "After all, should the Steering Committee run the show?" Mills criticised "tubthumping" at open forum sessions, and when fair, plump-faced Kelly of OU, next Congress Convenor, moved that Congress should discuss student as well as purely intlectual problems, Auc's Brittain complained about "wasting our time with the troubles of the world."

VUC's remit that liquor be openly tolerated at Congress under supervision, met with howls of rage. Pottinger: "Everything to do with drink in this country is surreptitious. . . . We had to smuggle it in over the hills by night. . ." Barbara Holm: "It was officially banned but not actively prohibited. . . This is an attempt to straighten out a contradictory situation." Others agreed the present set-up safeguarded the Committee's responsibility.

Economics and Freedom

Congress remit in favour of continued campaigning for increased bursaries was referred to NZSLF, original proponents of the Bursary Scheme approved by NZUSA in 1948, for concrete proposals to hand to the Minister. Otago dissented. Sallow President McCoy: "Bursaries are quite adequate already!" Other colleges showed considerable enthusiasm. Lincoln added a demand for increases in Junior and Senior Scholarships.

"That NZUSA collect and collate from all Colleges information concerning student hostels, and to negotiate with the Minister of Education for securing adequate hostel facilities in all University centres," had only AUC's disapproval. VUC undertook to draw up a questionnaire and lead the campaign.

Another Congress resolution, that supporting "free speech in student papers" (shades of Prof. Board v. Salient) was loudly supported by VUC and CUC. Said Mills, "We aren't going to be treated like a lot of school kids!" Solidly conservative Roderick Smith, AUC: "We happen to believe in good taste and good manners." We could see their halo. The motion was lost.

The Peace Manifesto likewise received Victorian and Canterburian support only. WFDY affiliation was upheld by VUC alone, and an ignorant attack on the organisation was angrily rebuffed by Holm.

The reply to Sir David Smith's delirium about "heretics" in the University was left in VUC's arms alone. But OU seconded a positive resolution "that NZUSA declares its opposition to any proposal to exclude anyone from a University appointment on the grounds of his political conviction." Smith (again!) saw it as a dilemma: "To give these people (presumably the Communists) freedom to dominate us, or to exclude them from freedom in order to safeguard our own freedom." Ireland (CUC—long, lank): "If a lecturer propagandises in the lecture-room, he is undesirable whether red or blue." Kelly (OU): "If our way of life is to stand the test, then Communists most be given freedom so that both can run the gauntlet of open discussion." O'Brien: "That is the basis of a University!"

Miller favoured the setting up of a sub-committee to assure the defence of acadamic freedom. With O'Brien, he agreed that the question would increasingly become an issue affecting the New Zealand University. But it was referred back to Colleges for discussion.

Hands Across the Sea

O'Brien then delivered a report on the Exec's negotiations with Senate and Government for safeguarding student interests under the Conscription Act. Students, as a result, will obtain indefinite postponement of training on application. Thanks to Kevin for valuable work.

OU's McCoy reported on the Australian Union of Students' Conference in January. Australian students were anxious to rejoin IUS and not to split the world student movement. He recommended NZUSA to cement relations with IUS and its affiliates on a friendly rank-and-file level. Aussie vacation exchange scheme was commended, and the Debating Tour caused some harsh words.

The International Union of Students gave birth to some sad demonstrations. VUC criticised the sending of delegates to splinter conferences at Leiden and London when no one was sent to IUS Council meeting in Sofia. We also moved that NZUSA send to the next IUS meeting a delegate who was returning to the country and could report adequately. This was not assented to. CUC at first opposed sending anyone. Mills: "It's like sending delegates year after year to the Congo to see if the negroes are still black." Finally Bruce Miller was appointed.

McCoy brought up the question of the IUS drama and music troupe who are to visit Australia. "Let's get to know these people." NZUSA agreed to invite them over to New Zealand. McCoy also mentioned Ken Tolburst, formerly Australasian rep on IUS Exec. It was agreed to ask IUS to send him on a N.Z. tour to discuss IUS with NZ. students.

The President undertook that NZUSA was not going ahead with any plans to form an international organisation outside IUS. "We will co-operate with IUS if it is at all possible."

Only concrete step arising from an ISS delegation to the Conference was the sending of a NZUSA delegate to ISS conference in Calcutta. Many delegates were critical of the work and attitude of ISS, but agreed to co-operate with it where possible.

On the Ball

Sports Sub-committee recommended further steps to persuade Rugby authorities to hand over the sword to Winter Tournament. Hard things were said about VUC's charging of the Haka Party's beer to the general account after last Easter Tournament.

Altogether a very many-sided conference. In the main, a vast improvement on the shambles held at [unclear: Anzac] weekend last year. We hope NZUSA will continue to look after the interests of students, and not try to settle things on the abstract level as heretofore. That probably depends on Victoria continuing to give a strong lead.