Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 1. March 4, 1953
Congress - - - '53
Congress - - - '53
The main thing about Congress is the programme of addresses and discussions. Without a core of scholarship, honest thought and free discussions the thing would be empty and even the fun of Congress would be the less enjoyable. The speakers this year were good, and Congress this year was good.
About the Speakers
Dr. G. A. Currie, B.Ss (Agr.) D.Sc. (Aberdeen), as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New Zealand.
Professor L. W. McCasklll. M Apr. Sc., Dip, C.A.C., is at present Associate Professor of Rural Education at Lincoln College.
Professor G. E. Hughes. M.A. (Glasgow), has held the chair of Philosophy at V.U.C. since 1951.
Mr. Halcroft has been a soldier in two world wars, was a Lieutenant-Colonel, and is at present industrial relations manager at General Motors.
Mr. W. Parker, MA, is a tutor in Adult Education and a well-known Maori broadcaster.
Dr. J. C Beaglehole. M.A., Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow in History at this college is the President of the N. Z. Council for Civil Liberties.
Mr. A. J. Danks, M.A., is Senior Lecturer in Economics at Canterbury University College.
Mrs. M. Garland, a sculptress, has recently returned from the Peace Conference at Peking.
Dr. J. F. Kahn. Dr. [unclear: iur.iur]., is the Senior Lecturer in Political Science at this college.
Miss Nancy Martin. L.R.S.M., British Scholar in music, is at present the music tutor for Adult Education in Wellington.
Mr. E. K. Braybrooke. L.LM. (N.Z. and Columbia), was the Congress Chairman. He is Senior Lecturer in Public and Private International Law here.
But if you are a fresher you will want to know what we are talking about, Congress is a ten day gathering of the University of N.Z. organised by the N.Z. University Students Association and held annually at Curious Cove in the Sounds at about the end of January. About one hundred and fifty students and staff from all over N.Z. go there to hear some of the ablest speakers in the country, to discuss, and to meet one another and they always have a good time.
Elsewhere in this issue there are short notes of the addresses given at Congress and you will see there that the opening speech was given by Dr. Currie. vice-chancellor of the University of N.Z. We appreciated the lively interest Dr. Currie took in Congress but perhaps every more we appreciated his assurance that he held no brief for any policy involving undue prolongation of the life of N.Z.U. as a restrictive organisation impeding the colleges and their professors in carrying out their duties in the ways they thought best. N.Z.U. should be concerned mainly with two things: firstly the maintenance of a high and roughly even standard of academic attainment throughout the various colleges, and secondly with the economic and political aspects of university education in N.Z. as a whole.
But I must not talk about the addresses or I want talk about anything else, and after all they are summarised somewhere else in this issue.
There are normally two sessions a day at Congress, a session being (in this context) an address followed by open discussion from the floor with sometimes group discussion sandwiched in between. This means that most of the mornings and evenings are occupied leaving the afternoons free. The location in the Sounds is ideal for swimming, hiking, boating, fishing and, at a small charge, even aquaplaning! Admittedly there were three days near the beginning of this year when many people went swimming, but we learned afterwards that most of the rest of N.Z. was under water at that time! On top of these natural facilities, the Physical Welfare Branch of the Internal Affairs Department generally supplies Congress with equipment for volley ball (a wonderful game, padderminton, tenniquoits and archery (another wonderful game. I'm told), and also with a chap to explain the finer points of the associated skills. And there is table-tennis indoors.
But of course not everybody likes active recreation all the time, so there would often be a group reading poetry, group playing records, and one fairly highly organised one singing madrigals under the enthusiastic baton of Nigel East gate. Most people got to know Nigel fairly well, for, being a new student, he found it not incongruous to struggle with a tricky piece of harmony one moment and remove a flake of skin from between someone's toes the next, justifying this schizophrenic activity with a deprecatory "My thesis, you know."
Indeed one of the main appeals of Congress is the diversity of people you meet there. As Prof. Hughes said in his address it is a sad day when the great god community is venerated so highly that the only result is a sterile uniformity. He put in a plea for the freedom, especially in the university, of those whose views and practices differ from those of the majority. And certainly there were one or two mild, but very kindly, cranks at Congress (the old Curious Cove pun is very templing). Roger (Harris, not Hughes) for example, who took the welfare of his fellows so much to heart that he felt impelled on the final nights of Congress to reassure the gently drowsing community that it was "three o'clock and all's well." Or sleepless Slocombe who remained awake, and to all appearances conscious, for fifty-four and a half consecutive hours.
Our Conventional Amusements
But there were also slightly more conventional amusements. Wednesday was set aside for a picnic to Ship Cove with a Ashing expedition for those so inclined, followed by a fancy dress dance. Few of us will quickly forget the glimpse we caught of Mr. Braybrooke clad only in a bath towel, a sponge-bag and a distraught look capering through the hall crying "Eureka! Eureka!" or of Mr. Carrad as a most composed Communist-under-the-bed or yet the wet trail of a shivering Sheila Ryburn lugubriously explaining that she was "just a wet blanket." There were, of course, quite a few members of the "special branch" represented at this gathering all seeking the blood, or at least particulars as to occupation, political affiliation, name of third paternal great aunt, etc., of Dr. J. C. Beaglehole, whose careful and revealing summary earlier in the week of the state of our civil liberties had brought them all out in their true colours. At about midnight all—or nearly all—repaired to the beach where Alex Young and a party of Colombo plan students from Malaya had organised a fish-fry to beat all fish-fries and there, comfortable between two bonfires we ate and were thankful. And then to cap it all, Fred, the launch owner. In cahoots with Ross McRostie (for once sans yoyo suggested a moonlight cruise—what more could one desire!
Sports and History
The final Saturday was given over to the Congress Olympics, and wonder of wonders. V.U.C. won the competition. But what else could result when even exec, members put their backs into it in the manner portrayed in the photograph.
Dr. Beaglehole had earlier organised a trip one afternoon to mark the anniversay of the discovery by Captain Cook of that essential geographic feature which makes it possible for this part of N.Z. to be the mainland. A party of stalwarts tolled to the top of Arapawa Island whence the naughty navigator is said to have sighted the straits. This even earned press publicity!
Towards the [unclear: end] of Congress two straight discussion sessions are held. One considers matters relating to Congress itself, while at the other, the University forum, motions relat ing to any subject may be brought below (and they are all there except for some machinery ones and one or two light-hearted ones) you will see some of the conclusions the majority of us came to at Congress. The ones calling on N.Z.U.S.A. for action have no effect unless supported by the colleges at N.Z.U.S.A. council meeting at Easter, so if you know your mind on the issues involved, tell your friends on exec, what you think should be done. And there was evidence of good faith at Congress too—130 people together contributed over £31 towards the Wit-watersrand appeal.
I have left many things out of this sketch; the church services, the small and not so small hut parties extending far into the small hours (that's what the small hours are for as the programme put It). the moonlight swimming, the elevation of George Curious to the episocopate. Mr. Whittaker's views on the place of women, all about "wallying up." the continued flourishing of Nebuchadnezzar, and much, much more that you will have to hear from those who were there. But if it has interested you, and if you haven't about £7/10/- next year, well I'll lend it to you to go to Congress on.
- That this Congress endorse the aims of the New Zealand University Student Newspapers' Association, and requests the Easter N.Z.U.S.A. Council meeting to give N.Z.U.S.N.A. its favourable consideration.—Carried.
- That we students of N.Z.US.A. Congress strongly condemn the action of the New Zealand delegation at the U.N. in abstaining from the voting on the question of the apartheid policy of the Malan Government of which policy we strongly disapprove.—Carried.
- We students of N.Z.U.S.A. Congress 1953 urge that our Government recognise the Central Peoples Government of China as the legitimate Government of China and support its admission to the United Nations as the representative of China.—Carried.
- That in view of the convincing evidence on conditions inside the Soviet Union. China and assorted countries, as exemplified by the reports by observers such as Mrs. Garland and Courtenay Archer and those of the daily Press, this Congress, believing that accurate Information concerning, these countries can be a strong contributing page 7 factor to World Peace, recommends N.Z.U.S.A. to Investigate the possibilities of organising a group or delegation representative of the students within the four constituent colleges and two agricultural colleges to visit and report on conditions there. That the possibility of inviting an exchange delegation be investigated.—Carried.
- That Congress protests against the drastic restrictions recently imposed on the importation of books into New Zealand (60 per cent. cut on 1950). We are of the opinion that the effect of this policy is to place restrictions on knowledge and that it is unjustifiable at the present time. We urge N.Z.U.S.A. to approach the Government with a view to the removal of the restrictions, and to seek the support of the Senate of N.Z.U. herein.—Carried.
- That we students of this 1953 Congress recommend to the next N.Z.U.S.A. Council meeting to critically examine the reports from the N.U. of South African students regarding the cessation of bursaries for Negro medical students at Witswatersrand University. That tentatively we regard this action as detrimental to the urgent medical needs of the African people. That N.Z.U.S.A. sponsor the formation of committees in the university colleges for the collection of relief fund to the African Medical Scholarship Trust Fund.—Carried.
- That we students at N.Z.U.S.A. Congress 1953 affirm the principle of one International Student Organisation.—Carried.
- That N.Z.U.S.A. seek information of the proceedings and findings of the 1952 Bucharest Conference which Mr. Kelly was unable to attend.—Carried.
- We urge that our Government support an Immediate resumption of of the Panmujon Truce Talks and call for an immediate cease fire.—Carried.
- That members of this Congress regard freedom of speech for their religious and political opponents as being as important as freedom of speech for themselves.—Carried.
- That this Congress urge N.Z.U.S.A. Committee on bursaries to press for immediate implementation of an Improved and increased bursary scheme.—Carried.
- That this Congress views with grave concern the reports of the apprehension and persecution of prominent Jews in Russia and East Germany, and wholehearted condemns the persecution of religious minorities under any regime what[unclear: soever].—carried.
More Relevant Motions Moved at the Congress Forum held at [unclear: Curless] Cove on Sunday, February 1, 1953
That this meeting wishes to show its sincere appreciation of Dr. Currie's attendance and enthusiasm shown by him at the 1953 N.Z.U.S.A. Congress and hopes that this action has set a precedent which will be followed up in succeeding years.—Carried.
(This motion has been communicated to Dr. Currie.)
- That the colleges take a survey and find out what would be the most suitable dates for Congresses.—Carried.