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. 17, No. 7. April 29, 1953

Student Building Muddle — College Council Accused

Student Building Muddle

College Council Accused

The subject of the Students Union Building is, or should be, of interest to all students. We recently received a letter from Mr. K. B. O'Brien on this subject. Mr. O'Brien's knowledge of the subject is such that his remarks command attention. Printed below is the full text of his letter.

"I Had not expected to write to your paper again, but I think the time is opportune to explain to present students the history and present situation of the Students' Union Building.

"Approximately twenty years ago a fund to erect a Student Union Building was started by the Association, Over the years it grew gradually as a result of Association activities. The war put an end to any immediate hope of a building, and after the war building costs had risen and indeed continued to rise.

Over all these years there was much talk of possible buildings, possible architects and a possible public appeal for funds. These matters were under the direction of a special committee of the association representative of past and present students as well as Council and staff.

"Finally, in 1947, a report by Messrs. I C. McDowall and N. R. Taylor was adopted as a basis of future progress. Steps were taken in 1948 by the Association to set up a special committee to organise a public appeal.

"It finally got under way and £20,000 was raised. This sum, added to the £15,000 already in hand, meant we had qualified for the maximum Government subsidy announced in 1949—£70,000. The appeal was organised by the committee which was organised by the Student Body: Council and staff were represented as well us past students. The most valuable work in an active capacity was done by the past students. The secretarial work was performed by then present students, and the Students Association provided all the finance for the appeal.

"Subsequently the Association handed to the Council most of the money held by them in order to render it eligible for subsidy. This was not done until a deed had been signed by Council and Association in order to safeguard the Association's interest in certain respects. Prior to this both Council and Association had agreed that a special committee re-presenting Council, staff, past and present students and the original trustees should advise Council on all building matters.

"Since then the whole project drifted slowly on. Last year the architect was finally agreed on by all concerned. Up to the date of writing the Council has not seen fit to publish the name of the architect. This is to be deplored as so many people, both students and public, have an interest in the question.

"Although the Executive took special staff to expedite the question of the architect's appointment before Christmas, because the Council said the matter was most urgent, it is understood that the terms of appointment have not yet been finalised by the Council. Nor has the Building Planning Committee been called together since last year.

"In the meantime the Council, without having the courtesy to ask the opinion of the full committee, set up a small committee to deal with the architect in what were said to be minor day-to-day matters. However as far as can be ascertained the Council did not see fit to define the relative duties of the new committee and the full committee. My experience as it former Council member leads me to believe that this will lead eventually to confusion and bitterness, and recent events tend to support that view.

"The Council, which regarded the whole question as urgent last December has authority from the Government to proceed to the stage of sketch plans only. However any effort to produce sketch plans appears to be dawdling and dilatory at least. This is a great pity, because until this is done, the Council cannot ask the Government for authority to proceed farther. Students should know that at present full responsibility for delay must rest somewhere in the labyrinthine administrative machine of the College itself, not on the student body or on the Government.

"I have written this letter in my capacity of one of the two present student representatives on the Building Planning Committee. As I have no other official connection with the student body beyond membership I feel it is suitable for me to write.

"In conclusion I can only say that the students should watch this matter closely. Their predecessors raised a lot of the money and provided the organisation for the rest. The Council lent its prestige to the public appeal negotiated for a subsidy, was represented on the Appeal Committee, and acted as a receiving depot for donations. Today the Council has all authority in the matter and in my view is not exercising it with the appropriate dispatch or with a due sense of its moral obligations,"

K. B. O'Brien