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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 4. 1962.

From The S.G.M. Pathetic Student Protest

From The S.G.M. Pathetic Student Protest

Student Leaders Scapegoats for Fee Increases

The Executive was bitterly blamed for failing to protest strongly against the recent fees increase. Hapless victims of the three hundred per cent, rise in tuition fees desperately attempted to oust the Executive in a motion of no confidence. They failed.

It was moved by Mr Dwyer and seconded by Mr Butterworth "That the Association is completely opposed to the recent increase in fees."

These two students also moved that: "This special general meeting of the Association has no confidence in the Executive."

Dwyer's Attack

Mr. Dwyer led the opposition against the executive. He charged the executive members with incompetence and with having failed to protect student interests at Victoria University. The executive, he alleged, concerned itself with minor matters. The executive members worried about trivialities (like writing to newspapers and proposing to line students up against a wall and having them "shot"); they concerned themselves with the bursary holders; they concerned themselves with the side issues relating to the system of bursaries; but they are not actually worried about the actual rise in university fees.

Mitchell's Defence

The President endeavoured to explain the complexity of the problem; and he tried to show the necessity for conducting proceedings and negotiations with the government on "diplomatic lines". We must have cool heads. We must have facts to support our claims. Facts, and not senseless shouting, should be the basis for our protests.

Furthermore, Mr. Mitchell issued a challenge: Ousting the executive at this time of the year can mean a serious disruption of student activities such as Extravaganza and Capping Week. Not only would it be unjust; but it would also be dangerous and unwise to remove the present executive members from their posts.

A profound silence followed this challenge. There was an atmosphere of meekness among the audience.

Finally, he claimed that the local executives and the national Students' Association were already working feverishly on the matter as early as last year, as soon as the fantastic change in rates was announced by the government. The executive was quite aware that the apparent benefits of the new bursary system were illusory; they were quite aware that there are many cases where students do not have the benefit of bursaries at all.

But it must have time to prepare its case. And that case—for lower fees, or a reasonable bursary system—could not be prepared at a time when everyone was away from the university. Thus, we have this apparent "conspiracy of silence". There was much behind the scenes which the student public did not see.

Future Demonstrations?

It will be interesting to observe just whether the wrath of the fees-increase victims will die down. It is unlikely that these people will content themselves with passing futile protest motions. If negotiations do not produce reasonable results, and if those results are not evident soon, it is possible that these martyrs will resort to more brutal means such as public demonstrations. Such seemed to be the feeling of some people at the meeting. We have a voice; and we must use that voice. We must make ourselves heard.


On the whole, nothing much was achieved at the special general meeting. At least, some of the students at the meeting did not think so. But this much could be said: the meeting provided good entertainment. And if there are no people like Mr. Dwyer (or Mr. Blizzard) around, the concept of democracy would be a mere fantasy and nothing else. Perhaps the most entertaining remarks were those given by a certain Mr. Hamilton. As they were of a rather indelicate nature, "Salient" will not publish them here.

Other resolutions passed at the special general meeting were as follows:

Moved M. J. Moriarty; seconded Miss M. Clark:—

That in clause 21 (b) (ii) (H) of the third schedule to the Constitution (Conduct of Elections), the words "Chairwoman Women's House Committee who shall be a woman" be deleted and replaced by the words "Women's Representative, who shall be a woman."

Note. —The portfolio of Chairwoman, Women's House Committee has not been a success and the holder has not found herself with sufficient work to do. In the regulations, which the Executive will draft in the event of this amendment being approved, provision will be made for the portfolio holder to be an ex officio member of most Sub-Committees. It is intended that the portfolio will also handle all matters of particular concern to women students.

Moved V. G. Maxwell; seconded Margaret Clark:—

That in view of the additional financial penalty involved in failing examinations the Students Association recommend to the College Council that those who fail examinations be given a second opportunity to pass by the holding of "Specials" towards the end of January.

(Note.—This practice is wide-spread overseas and exists for medical and agricultural students in New Zealand.)

Moved R. Bromby; seconded P. Blizard:—

That the Association endorse the refusal of the University Council to permit the Department of Labour to peruse the personal files of students in accordance with the traditions of academic freedom.

from Salient Observer