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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 19, No. 9 August 12, 1955

Salient Supplement

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Salient Supplement

At an emergency meeting of the Executive last night the resignation of Mr. Whitta was discussed at length but the matter was held over until 29th August. Mr. Whitta's resignation followed that of Mr. Marchant's tendered on Monday, 8th August. Subsequently, Mr. Whitta asked permission to withdraw his resignation.

As soon as the meeting was declared open Mr. Rich moved: 'That the Executive go into committee. Chairman Iles refused to accept the motion at that stage. Mr. Iles then read Mr. Whitta's letter of resignation and his letter withdrawing that resignation, which read as follows:

President, V.U.C.S.A.

Dear Walter,

Following our telephone conversation regarding this whole resignation affair I wish to withdraw my conditional resignation. It seems to me that John Marchant may still be made to continue in office; and that being so, I an quite prepared and willing to pull my full weight in the position of Treasurer.

Upon reflection I can see that I would be better able to inaugurate my pet, the Health Scheme, from inside the Executive, and there are a number of things I wish to push through before I leave that august body.

Finally may I say that I sincerely believe that John can be persuaded to continue in office and I shall do my part in this direction.

Yours faithfully,

(Sgd.) J. M. Whitta.

Mr. Iles, then gave an account of telephone discussions between himself and Mr. Whitta prior to the meeting. Mr. Whitta stated that: 'Walter asked me if my resignation was definite. I replied that it was dependent on John's resignation.' This had been explained in his first letter, as the initiative that he (Marchant) had been injecting into the Executive would be gone.

Miss Fussell: 'What about the initiative that you were injecting?'

It was then moved, Lescher/Fussell: 'That the Executive do not permit Mr. Whitta to withdraw his resignation.'

Iles: 'I would prefer a positive notion.'

The motion was then withdrawn and it was moved, Hutchison/Powles: 'That Mr. Whitta be given leave to withdraw his resignation.'

Mr. Marchant had been approached by Mr. W. Iles during the day concerning Mr. Whitta's resignation. When asked to clarify his views on Mr. Whitta's resignation, Mr. Marchant said: 'If the Executive accepts Mr. Whitta's resignation I may well see my way clear to ask the meeting to accept the withdrawal of my resignation.'

Whitta: 'This is a most interesting problem.' He went on to say that Mr. Marchant's earlier statement did not seem to point a finger at any one member of the Executive. 'My resignation therefore appears to be the easy way out for him.' Mr. Whitta had thought that his resignation would be discussed on 22nd August after Mr. Marchant's. This smacked of conniving, he said. 'It may not be so, but that i3 the way I am inclined to look at it. The whole purpose of my resignation was to follow Mr. Marchant's. This Executive means a lot to me. Perhaps I have suffered more than anyone else from 'Salient's' bad publicity (reference to slating of old Executive in 'Salient', July 1st, 1955.).' Mr. Whitta said that he had contacted Mr. Mason who had told him that there was nothing else that he (Whitta) could do to help him. 'I have always been willing to do whatever has been asked of me. I have one or two pet schemes that I am interested in, like the Student Health Scheme. I feel that I have shown the requisite initiative and have pulled my weight in the Executive. I could say more but I now request the Executive to allow me to withdraw my resignation.'

Iles then pointed out that some of the criticism directed against Mr. Whitta as Treasurer was unjustified. The job was a sinecure at any time.

Whitta: 'He cannot do much as Treasurer but he can as an Exec. member.'

Hemery: 'The issue is really a question of voting between two people.'

Whitta: 'That's the way he (Mr. Marchant( put it, but I hope I can still persuade John.'

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Mr. Hutchison then stated that as Mr. Whitta was an N.Z.U.S.A. Delegate leaving that night he would suggest that discussion on the resignation be held over till the next meeting. He did not agree with the attitude of either the Secretary or the Treasurer in resigning. 'It is like deserting a sinking ship' he said, The Secretary's resignation was not directed against anyone in particular but it appeared there was a certain amount of connivance, with little credit to those concerned.

Powles: Stated that 'We should not be driven to choose,' between Mr. Marchant and Mr. Whitta.

Rich: Agreed saying 'All Jim's point s are good ones. But apart from that I don't like to see the Executive soy 'no' to a withdrawal of a resignation. I would rather that the matter was left for a while. John (Marchant) has given the view that either Mr. Whitta or he will have to resign.' Mr. Rich then indicated that he would support the motion that Mr. Whitta bo permitted to withdraw his resignation.

Grocott: 'The elections were recent. Mr. Whitta was unopposed. He had already been in office a year and if he was thought to be unsatisfactory, why was an opponent not found.

Mr. Iles then explained that the Treasurership was the only position which requires a qualification (only a qualified accountant could have stood against Mr. Whitta).

Fussell (to Whitta): 'What would you do if we accept Mr. Marchant's resignation?'

Whitta: 'I cannot say. I feel that I can still persuade Mr. Marchant to withdraw his resignation.'

Barnett: 'Mr. Whitta has made clear to us his position. I would now like to hear Mr. Marchant clear up his own position.'

Mr. Marchant then read a statement: 'Ladies & Gentlemen, By the severity of my action we have suddenly become the centre of critical interest. To many my determination to resign has been misunderstood and in some cases sadly misconstrued.

My purpose has been to shock you into the realisation of the remarkable responsibility which Executive office imposes. If you are sensitive you will have been terrified, as I have been, by the magnitude of your task. Where thirteen people are required to minister to the needs of the many College clubs and societies there is no room for anyone who does not throw himself wholeheartedly into his work. Those of our number who have worked hard and conscientiously within the limited time which is available to them will be clean and settled in their consciences; those of us who have been tardy will be spurred into action if we are worthy and those who lack real interest will consider their resignation.

I promise further outbursts if some who have been tardy do not reveal a new spirit of real enthusiasm and work.'

Grocott: 'Mr. Marchant's action is irresponsible.'

Iles: denied that there had been any connivance: the meeting had been called on his own authority to consider Mr. Whitta's resignation and to clarify the position. In view of the fact that Mr. Marchant's resignation statement was in general terms, he felt that the sooner the position was clarified the better. He was quite sure that it was not possible to withdraw a resignation without the permission of the body to which it was addressed. 'I do not feel that the resignation should be withdrawn, nor do 1 feel that it should be accepted at this stage. I suggest that the resignation lie on the table until the meeting of 22nd August.'

Whitta: 'I can see the purpose behind this, but I would like to go south on the understanding that the withdrawal of try resignation has been accepted. I feel strongly about this attempt to condemn one member of the Executive.'

Ellis: 'Would you resign again if Mr. Marchant does not withdraw his resignation.'

Whitta: 'I will not want to resign again if Marchant resigns. The position has changed considerably since Monday night.'

Rich: 'It seems that the people here must decide whether they want Mr. Marchant on the Exec. or Mr. Whitta. This is not the time to decide it.

Hemery: 'Why does Mr. Whitta think that Mr. Marchant will reconsider his decision within two weeks when he has been considering it already for a period of some weeks?'

Whitta: 'Because of the new circumstances which have arisen.'

Marchant: 'I have not tried to remove you. I still hold to my first statement. I would have achieved my purpose if anyone who had a twinge of conscience resigned. I promise further outbursts if some who have been tardy do not reveal a new spirit of real enthusiasm and work.'

Hutchison: 'What would have been the position if you had been elected President? Would you still have resigned?'

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Marchant: 'Most certainly.'

Hemery: 'Do you hope to got somebody better and go against the whole idea of a voting system? If everybody in the world were not given a second chance a lot of good work would not have been done.'

Marchant: 'I would be prepared to give a second chance.'

Grocott: 'Thank you very much.'

Fussell: Then said that she felt that Mr. Marchant was underestimating the authority of his position. If, instead of resigning, he had gone to the people to whom he was referring and had spoken to them individually, it would have carried a lot of weight. Much more perhaps than he thought.

Barnett: 'If Mr. Marchant resigns whenever things get slack he is setting himself up as a subjective judge.'

Marchant: 'I am entitled to do this. 2,000 others are doing this.'

Eilis: 'People should be able to do whatever they like as long as they don't hurt others.'

Whitta: 'Because I am going south tonight and a taxi is leaving shortly, I would like the motion to be put.'

Hutchison: 'Can I withdraw my motion.'

Iles: 'Only with the consent of your seconder and the leave of the meeting.'

Powles: 'I don't want to sec us make a hasty decision. I withdraw my seconding.'

With the leave of the meeting the motion was withdrawn. It was then decided on the motion Hutchison/Lescher: 'That the resignations of Mr. Marchant and Mr. Whitta lie on the table until 29th August!(all members of Executive could not be present at the next scheduled meeting on 22nd August and Mr. Marchant agreed to remain in office until 29th August.)