Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 2. March 13, 1952
Our Right To Study Depends On Lasting Peace — Varsity Socialists Confer . .
Our Right To Study Depends On Lasting Peace
Varsity Socialists Confer . . .
Members of the College socialist clubs meeting at the N.Z. Student Labour Federation Congress in Curious Cove the two days before the main Student Congress, spent much time discussing international events. Why? Because international events are vitally connected with more immediate student problems, in relation to the Pacific Area..
The S.L.F. Policy Report cited Rome very significant figures. New Zealand's "Defence" expenditure has increased from £9.8 million in 1949-50 to £31.6 million budgeted for the current year—an increase of 222 per cent. Compare this with the total education figures for the same two periods—£13.9 million and £18.5 million—an increase of only 33 per cent., swallowed almost entirely by increasing costs and urgent needs. The vote for University bursaries this year is £146,200, compared with £149,523 spent in 1950-51. In the field of science, "Defence Science" expenditure has increased by 95 per cent in a year (£45,000 1950-51, £88,000 1951-52), compared with a total increase in the D.S.I.R. vote of a mere 9 per cent.
The conclusion is obvious. As in Britain and America, education and the constructive side of life are being squeezed out of the nest by the bloated bird of rearmament.
The report also set into the context of the war-drive, attacks on civil liberty in New Zealand and Australia, and assaults on militant trade unions. The indivisibility of industrial, academic freedom, and of the economic needs of workers and students, was pointed out. The report also detailed the economic trends in New Zealand, showing how overseas rearmament is responsible for inflation, and for the lowered workers' share of our national income which was down another 4.6 per cent, last year.
Visitors from overseas, including Dr. Conant and Van Deusen, are also subject of discussion in the report. "These visits are no more accidental," it says, "than Von Luckner's in 1938. United States policy requires a supine intelligentsia as well as a supine working class in the South Pacific."
The S.L.F. Congress concerned itself at some length with the academic work of its members. It was decided that one of the S.L.F.'s main tasks was to develop the socialist attitude towards subjects, taught in the university, and to combat reactionary ideas that are given prominence there. It was noted in the report that the New Zealand colleges were fortunate in having numbers of reputable scholars whom objective facts are leading to a socialist analysis of their subject.
Other sections of the report, which was adopted, with some amendments, unanimously, concerned the evil effects of comics and other cheapjack literature such as the New Zealand edition of the Reader's Digest, the growth of racialism in New Zealand, the puppet role of New Zealand's foreign policy, and events in Korea, Germany, America and Japan.
The organisational report, upon which unanimity was also reached, outlined how the socialist policy of the clubs would be put into effect in 1952. It was apparent that the Federation was in a healthier state that it had been in for some, years—for the first time in two years all four colleges were represented at the congress. Although the national executive will be stationed at Victoria College again this year, the Auckland club will be undertaking some of the work formerly handled by the executive.
The S.L.F.'s weekly Newsletters will be continuing to appear this year, giving up-to-date news on the activities of other clubs, of overseas bodies, and local and international politics; and giving a lead on day-to-day activities and policy. For congress there appeared the first issue of what is to be a quarterly organ of the Federation. "The Varsity Socialist." This contains valuable articles on the history of the Federation, on Gordon Watson, an interview with Sir John Pratt on the question of relations with China, a report on N.Z.S.L.F.'s activities against the Police Offences Amendmetn Act, a section from the report of the N.Z.S.L.F. delegate to the Warsaw Conference of the International Union of Students, and a statement by a leading Wellington scientist on the subject of biological research in the Soviet Union. The next issue of "The Varsity Socialist" will be appearing at Easter.