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Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College. Vol. 19, No. 6. May 31, 1955

NZUSA Deliberates ... — A Senate Representative for Students?

NZUSA Deliberates ...

A Senate Representative for Students?

On the question of whether NZUSA should pursue the matter of a representative on Senate, Mr K. B. O'Brien (Res. Exec.) suggested that the benefit would be a two-way exchange of opinions.

A representative of NZUSA would have representative status on that body, not delegate status—i.e., he would be bound to bring up those matters which his constitutents asked him to bring up, but he would not be bound, to support them. The Reichel-Tate Commission had found it desirable that the students should have a representative on the College Councils, but that it was not desirable that they should be directly represented on the University Senate.

MAC proposed that the Vice Chancellor be asked to accept a brief for NZUSA until such time as a permanent student rep was appointed. Mr. M. J. O'Brien suggested that such a proposal meant in effect that the two posts were mutually exclusive and contradictory.

Points Against

OU were not opposed to a representative on Senate, but considered that all arguments so far put forward were insufficient to induce them to accept this view. They enumerated the points against a Senate representative:—
  • In 1952 Senate was firmly opposed to student representation—it was useless to try again without different and sound arguments in favour of the proposed move;
  • representative status of the student member of Senate would place him in an invidious position if he was opposed to a motion which he had been instructed to Introduce to Senate;
  • there was already in existence all necessary machinery in college Councils to present views of the students to Senate—as long as the student representative on the College Council kept Council informed on matters affecting students and gave student views on the matter. Council could take the matter up to Senate level through its representatives;
  • before Senate votes on an important matter, it usually sets up a sub-committee to discuss the question fully—the student representative would not necessarily be elected to a sub-committee discussing mutters affecting students' interests;
  • undergraduates were legally not members of the University of New Zealand.
  • any member of Senate could vote as they personally felt appropriate on all questions.

Mr K. B. O'Brien, in reply to OU's first objection, suggested that when attempts were being made to obtain a student representative on College Councils, old arguments were repeatedly used until eventually Councils capitulated. The matters discussed by Senate do not usually concern the students as such; this idea was wrong.

Senate today often did things of which Council was unaware until after a decision had been reached.

Mr. N. Beach (Res. Exec. CUC) suggested that whereas the student representative on Council was concerned with student matters on a local level, the student representative on the UNZ Senate would be concerned with student matters at a national level.

Mr. K. O'Brien stated that Senate did not consider that those on Senate as representatives of bodies were responsible to the bodies which elected them. The position was somewhat similar to a member of Parliament not being responsible to his constituents until the end of his term of office.

Mr. Grater (OU) stated that the time was not far off, when matters of national student importance would be discussed at Council level. Mr. Douglas (CUC) "The year 2055".

Mr. Grater "It may not be as far off as that."

Mr. K. B. O'Brien suggested that the devolution of the university presented many problems for students—as e.g., the language requirements which varied from College to College.