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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 5. May 2, 1957

The Outsider on the Inside

page 2

The Outsider on the Inside

The title-block on Salient's front page each issue proclaims Salient to be "an organ of student opinion at Victoria College." Those words have been there since long before, in quite recent years, the Stud. Ass.'s Publications Regulations were revised to constitute Salient an "official organ of V.U.C.S.A."

There is nothing necessarily inconsistent in the two definitions—but they represent the adjacent sides of the parallelogram of forces of which Salient is the somewhat schizophrenic resultant.

The phrase "official organ" suggests that editorial comment may represent the official view of the Association. It could logically mean the exclusion of all controversial material which might embarrass the Executive—particularly any criticism of the Executive itself.

That it is (at present) interpreted as not meaning this is apparent from perusal of a single issue.

The Executive appoints the Editors, and may direct them to publish any specific item. The paper receives a subsidy from Association funds, and is subject to the President's imprimatur. But the Editors are, within these limits, independent, and the voice of Salient can by no stretch of imagination be identified with the voice of the Executive.

An article in our last issue mentioned as one item of the present policy of South-east Asia's student press "to be autonomous, but to seek mutual co-operation with national student unions."

We believe that this should also be the policy of the student press in New Zealand, both nationally and within each college.

Close association between student journals and the elected student representatives is essential. The journals must be part of the student establishment, kept informed of all that is going on in the student world and publicizing it among the student body.

At the same time, the independence of the student press, its freedom to comment and pass its own judgment without any restraint from the student hierarchy, must be regarded as inviolable.

The general condition of New Zealand's newspaper industry is investigated elsewhere in this issue. In the face of a startlingly uniform orthodoxy among the press outside the University, we believe that the student press 'owes a duty to represent the open mind, to be a forum for doubts, decisions, and heresies.

This, of course, means excursions into fields where the normally cautious elected leaders of the student body cannot venture. Rut it does not mean that the most direct liaison between those leaders and the student press should be broken off, or even that their relations should be strained and formal.

We claim the right to be simultaneously on the inside and on the outside—to have access to and the confidence of the responsible student leaders, and yet to comment on and criticize constructively the actions and decisions of those leaders, and of all the other personalities and institutions of our time.

We hold that these rights have become hallowed in the best traditions of the free press—which still has as Jefferson said it had 170 years ago—"a greater role to play in a democracy than government itself."