Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 6. 1964.
God Defend New Zealand
God Defend New Zealand
Victoria's is not the only campus where Executive members are prepared to suppress the views of people they disagree with.
There have been similar examples of this intolerance reported recently from Auckland and Lincoln.
It seems fairly obvious that some members of the Executive have distorted ideas about the functions of a University. The fact that such people are on the governing body of the Students' Association makes us wonder whether the students discovered their witch hunting tendencies before they were elected.
What the hell do these people think they are doing? What do they think a University is for? What do they think are its responsibilities to the rest of the community?
Judging by their past performances, the would-be Joe McCarthys regard the University as a sedate, pure, insulated, swaddled, little playground, where Miss Fresherette and Mr. Fresher can grow up in the comparative ease and middle class harmony of the cloying breast and loving arms of the old Alma Mater.
We mustn't mention sex, because it is not a proper subject for the young ladies and gentlemen of our revered academy to hear of. Don't talk about anything that gives anyone the idea that there are ways of life other than ours. That might make people think. Don't let the idea that the world has its foul stinking sides creep in. That might disturb some of the serene innocent young countenances. In short, don't let's have a University at all. Let's have a polytechnic, a night school or a high school. The idea killers might deny that this is their outlook, but their actions would give the lie to their words.
Out with the Mormons (do you remember that little episode when the Mormons wanted to use the little Theatre?) Out with anyone interested in hypnotism. (You must remember that instance, when Exec, had hypnotism banned from the building.) Censure anyone holding mock religious services. (You can't have forgotten about little Congress.) Down with anyone who holds public demonstrations. (Remember Exec, members trying to censure people who demonstrated against the South Africans.) What about President Blizard being censured (in his absence) for taking part in a public political meeting (Keith's)? There have been attempts to censure Salient. And now—out with any radical viewpoint—it's sure to be Communist.
There is another side to the coin of this outlook. It is about Public Relations.
Everyone knows that the University needs endowments, that students want public sympathy to enable higher bussaries to be raised, that we need more Government money for a hundred and one pressing purposes. So what we must do, say this little group, is build up our public relations in town. We must give the idea that the students and staff are trying to make Victoria into an academic garden of Eden, and would have succeeded were they not hampered by money shortages.
It doesn't really matter if the intellectual life of the campus is as stimulating as a great-grandmother's sex life. As long as we can paint a pretty picture. And we can't paint a pretty picture, can we, if we permit anyone who has different ideas to speak here. We must keep such people out because there are some old women who will call us Reds. In short, whether or not we are as corrupt as hell, we must tell the world what little angels we are.
Public Relations Officer Robin Bell speaks of the University "stimulating" the town. Ha ha. In some mysterious way we can apparently do this even if the University doesn't stimulate its own students. If the would be thought policemen had their way. Varsity intellectual life would be about as stimulating as a suet pudding. It's not much better at the moment, but God help the campus if we have any more attempts to "tone it down". God help the rest of society, too, if we fail in our duty to provide and stimulate new ideas and outlooks.
The people on Executive, who would run their little guided democracy if they got the chance (whatever They chose to call it, that's what it would be) are the same people who say that the Executive should not take a stand on important issues without the support of the majority of the Association.
This is one of those tragico-comical situations—it would be funny to anyone who thinks that the liberal tradition of the University is a joke.
The so called leaders of student opinion have utterly failed to give any kind of lead. They rule their regiment from behind by holding it back whenever they have an opportunity to do so. But they could wear an intellectual strait jacket without noticing it. It's high time they showed they had some fire in their bellies. They could start by resigning while they still have the chance to bow out gracefully.
There is a place for them at the University but none on the Executive.