Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 9. 1962.
Sir,—I was present at the Special General Meeting of the Students' Association held on 15 June last and should like to express my views on the subject of fees more fully than I did that night. First, a word about the meeting itself. If that was an example of the way democracy works, then let us look more closely at our system of government. There were very few at the meeting whose views coincided with my own and various members of the majority were obviously going to make sure that the minority said as little as possible. The first two motions were of considerable importance being the ones upon which all the others hung and as soon as the proposer and seconder had spoken it was moved that the motion be put; nobody else had a chance to speak. This made the intentions of those of the majority very obvious; they did not want, or perhaps they were afraid, to hear any view contrary to their own. When anybody was given the floor to oppose the lowering or abolition of fees it was difficult for that person to speak without being shouted at and Interrupted. Those present will remember Mr O'Brien's react reaction to this.
It is a pity that a greater number of students opposed to the motions put forward were not at the meeting on Friday night It would have been refreshing to listen to a speaker with something worthwhile and logical to say. For example we heard speakers on the one hand, talking of lowering and eventually abolishing fees, and on the other, of raising bursaries—ridiculous and quite illogical to say the least. In my opinion the fees they are now are quite in keeping with the living standards of the 1960's. Before they were raised they were of the 1920 standard. It is obvious that if a student applies himself to his studies, and does not fail exams, then the new scale will be of no hardship to him. Any cases of real hardship are considered and, where appropriate, allowance is made. I agree that there are some cases where bursaries could be granted; an ideal would be to extend bursaries to cover all students doing a subject for the first time. So, leave the fees as they are and let the student who wastes his time pay for it, as I did by missing two units last year. All this has been said before but it bears repetition and anyone disagreeing, if he is honest with himself, must realise that his views are unrealistic,
I now turn to the problem raised by the wishes of only eight per cent, of the student population expressed at a S.G.M. earlier in the year regarding the demonstration. If our Executive had refused to hold a demonstration at any time then this quite obviously would have been unconstitutional. However, as Mr Mitchell explained, the time desired was quite inappropriate, having regard to the move to make representations to the University Grants Committee and also the obvious intentions of the Police if any demonstration took place at the opening of Parliament. I would commend the action of the Executive as being both reasonable and as being in the best interests of the student body.
In conclusion I must mention the meeting of the "Caretaker Executive" held on the Monday after the S.G.M. at which those present decided against holding a demonstration on exactly the same grounds as the original Executive: quite beside there being only three days between the meeting and the Annual General Meeting which was considered too short a period in which to organise a demonstration, it was decided that the time was not suitable as representations were being made to the Grants Committee. This surely was the main reason for Mr Mitchell and his Executive acting as they did.—Yours etc.,
Paul von Dadelszen