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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University. Wellington Vol. 23 No. 6 1960

Fijian Students "Keeping To Themselves"

page 3

Fijian Students "Keeping To Themselves"

The Fiji Students' Association at Victoria now has about fifty members, nearly all of them students. Although this is a club of a significant it is an independent organisation unattached in any way to the Students' Association. It holds its own socials and debates; it has its own "News Bulletin." its own annual dinner.

People have questioned the wisdom of such an independent, self-centered group, for the FSA excludes all non-Fijians without exception, the excuse being that it would lose its uniqueness unless this were done. Thus, the group is actively encouraging the tendency of Fijian students to stick to themselves.

Cartoon of two people sleeping in bed

It must be remembered, however, that this tendency for the association's members to be standoffish is not entirely the fault of the FSA. More likely, indeed, the association is the consequence of the failure of many Fijians to establish contact with outside organisations. For the Kiwi finds it easier to make friends among old high school acquaintances, or with people from his home town. Finding that his social life is complete, he sees no need to meet overseas students. But it is understandable that this passivity should be taken for rejection, so that the Fijian, like the Asian, turns to the group in which he finds recognition and acceptance most easily. Hence, a habit is created of shunning the Kiwi, or any white man out of fear of rejection or ridicule. Defensive attitudes are built up.

It does not, however, stop there, for the overseas student sometimes does not find satisfaction in his own group. Should this happen, he is left in a psychological turmoil. He is "rejected" by both the Kiwis and his own people.

Some Can Adjust

The lucky one does succeed in adjusting himself; the unlucky one creates a mental hell of his own, He may go go far as to dream up imaginary "prejudices" which he has been subjected to. Blaming others is a way of salvaging his ego. The PSA could serve as a half-way house through which the newcomer could be introduced into his new environment. Before this can be done, however, the association will have to give up its "Fijians only" policy.