Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 2. March 20, 1957
In the Colleges
In the Colleges
The New Zealand University Students' Association has been agitating for a student say in Senate for at least 9 years. Student representation on the Councils of constituent colleges has been accepted for some time: V.U.C. blazed the trail (as always) in 1938. and other colleges followed. It is understood that at one college the President of the Student Association becomes the student representative automatically. The V.U.C. system (by which the representative is appointed by Student Association Executive for a 6-year term and reports back to a closed meeting of Executive) was a radical one when introduced, but certainly lags behind now. Student representation should be as direct, fresh, and responsive to student opinion as it can possibly be.
The present constitution of Senate is: Academic' heads of colleges (ex officio), 4 Government appointees, 8 College Council appointees, 2 Agricultural College appointees, 5 Court of Convocation (graduates) representatives, and 3 from the University Academic Board.
Without dimming the brilliance of this galaxy, it would be reasonable for N.Z.U.S.A. and all its constituent associations to each have, a representative on the Senate. But as long as there is resistance to the whole idea of students being represented, maybe N.Z.U.S.A. is wise to limit its proposals to a single representative at this stage.
The chief argument presented against the idea is understood to have been that student questions don't enter into Senate discussions: College Councils are the loftiest places where students are concerned, and their voice is rightly restricted to those bodies.
This argument is, of course, palpable nonsense. The agenda of Senate meetings is constantly crowded with questions of vital interest to students to the solution of which student representatives could contribute valuably.
In the past year, for example, the question of the required standards for entrance to the University, and the obviously linked question of more adequate facilities in the colleges (especially in the matter of buildings) have been constantly before the Senate. Could any questions be of more vital significance for students?
The evident need for a national single university policy on establishment of special schools, higher staff salaries and student busaries, freer interchange with universities overseas (regardless of diplomatic curtains), and the historic movement of the colleges towards autonomy, have all been considered by Senate. The students of New Zealand have views on these matters which at present they can express to Senate only indirectly.
University education has been described as many things. But realistically it is a process of receiving a certain amount of knowledge (and a certificate to prove it) in return for hard cash. It is a very sordid commercial business.
But the University is the only commercial institution where the customer is not only always wrong, but is not even represented when the question of how wrong he is, is being considered.
It was a long, hard fight to get representation on the college councils, but victory came in the end. N.Z.U.S.A., and the whole student population of New Zealand, must keep up the pressure to win the same right at Senate level.