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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 24, No. 15. 1961.

Student Papers—Censorship!

page 8

Student Papers—Censorship!

Student Newspapers are primarily for the expression of student opinion. At least, that is how it goes in theory. The majority of student newspapers, the world over are striving for autonomy: for self-jurisdiction. Some, namely those operating in select authoritarian states prefer a form of state censorship; it widens their appreciation of the current political social executive temper—to which they are trying to make themselves compatible. Others prefer self-censorship and control; realising that only without any form of external pressure can they start to fulfil their function—that of giving free reign to all student opinion.

Censorship is a disgusting concept and a vile practice. It operates exclusively for the suppression of thoughts and ideas, thought to be harmful to the governing minority, by the governing minority. In student affairs, this minority sometimes takes form in the body known as the Students' Executive; sometimes in the group known as the University Council.

Witness below two fine examples of current student Newspaper censorship. One, from Australia, has the problem of submitting its copy to the printer and Executive, for inspection. The other, occurring at Dunedin, was caused by the Executive giving the Editor the boot, through "personally criticising the History Department's lectures."

The Melbourne University newspaper "Farrago" is no longer printed by the "Herald and Weekly Times." The Herald refused to give a reason for this measure. Past editors of the "Farrago" said that the rigidity of the censorship under which "Farrago" was forced to operate had had serious effects on the enterprise of student journalism. The occasional censorship of "blue material" did not worry many people, but the consciousness that other subjects had to be dealt with cautiously, even though articles dealing with them were not legally actionable, tended to prevent the student newspaper from playing its traditional role in the field of ideas. The Herald's sudden decision, to cease printing "Farrago" came after the Students' Representative Council had adopted proposals designed to meet criticism which the Herald management had made of the conduct of the paper. To meet Herald complaints about the constant succession of editors and changes in styles and methods, the S.R.C. decided to make the editorship of "Farrago" a yearly appointment, starting from the second term this year. A new method of censorship was also adopted. Previously the page proofs of each issue, as well as being scrutinised by the Herald, were brought back to the University by the editor for two members of the S.R.C. to censor. The page proofs then had to be taken into the city, often after a delay of several hours, a system which met with the approval neither of the printers nor of the editors, who argued that they were forced to waste several hours which they could have otherwise devoted to academic work. At a recent meeting S.R.C. appointed a Director of Student Publications who took over the executive's censorship powers and travelled into the printing plant, eliminating the delay between composing and printing. (Farrago, Melbourne).

At the Otago University 400 students started a formal protest against the Executive's powers of censorship over the University newspaper "Critic." The censorship was exercised over an article which personally criticised the History Department's lectures. The editor of "Critic," who resigned after the article was prohibited, said that the paper's policy had always been to discuss controversial subjects and offer constructive criticism. He asserted that there was widespread disgust with the standard of lecturing. (Canta, Christchurch).

"Salient" is of the opinion that all censorship is a necessary evil (excluding the tenuous laws of libel and obscenity). The prevalence of censorship is indicative of the weakness and unhealthy attitude of the student body and its representatives (Executive). At Victoria University, "Salient" has suffered little at the hands of the governing bodies. We have had advice pressed upon us once or twice; once or twice we have had the blue pencil run over us. That, of course, was in the past.

Today, we look forward to a bright and happy future; confident that no one is going to bully or suppress us, confident that we shall give fair representation to all student opinion. "Salient" will not tolerate censorship. Before censorship comes to "Salient" we will fight ferociously, the policies and rights of its censors. Failing that, we will pack our bags and "buck and wing" en masse, off the stage, completely.