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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 7. 1964.

Executive Says Facts Wrong

Executive Says Facts Wrong

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,—In your editorial on May 4, 1964, the Executive of the Association was accused of various acts of "suppression." As these charges were considered by some Executive members to be unfair and serious enough to warrant a reply, it was suggested that I should comment on your editorial in my capacity as Publications Officer.

You had suggested that the Executive had tried to oust the Mormons. Yet, on June 27, 1963, it was actually resolved "that the Mormon Church be granted the use of the Memorial Theatre" (see Minutes of June 27, 1963).

Also on June 27, 1964. a motion, "that the Mormon Church be sponsored" was defeated: the general feeling which led to the defeat of this third motion was the desire that all religious groups should be treated equally, so that no preferential treatment (whether by way of financial sponsorship or otherwise) should be given to any particular body. It is admitted, however, that on July 22, 1963, certain Executive members endeavoured to move "that a strong motion of censure be sent to the Society for Student Rights which sponsored a visit of the Mormons . . the censure motion (which was directed at the Society and not the Mormons) arose because of the belief that the Society was giving the Mormons indirect financial support even though it probably had no genuine interest in that religious body. This attempt at censuring the Society was, however, lost.

On the matter of hypnotism, I invite your readers to refer to the Executive Minutes of September 30, 1963, where it was resolved "that the Executive notes with interest the activities of this (proposed) club (on hypnotism) and looks forward to receiving its application for affiliation, this to be accompanied by professional evidence as to the safety (of the activities of such a club)." To the best of my knowledge no attempt has since been made actively to introduce such a club to the campus. Implicit in the resolution was surely the understanding that an existent ban on the club would be uplifted as soon as application for affiliation was made, and such application was supported by evidence of competent, professional guidance being available. Wherein lies the justification for your assertion that Executive policy was to oust "anyone interested in hypnotism"?

Thirdly, your allegation that Mr. Blizard was censured in his absence needs serious qualification. It is submitted that Mr. Blizard was present at all material times of the investigation, from 5.15pm to 6.25pm (see Minutes of November 18, 1963), during which time he was given opportunity to defend his case. He left voluntarily at 6.25 in order to keep a prior engagement: his departure was not a protest against The manner in which the inquiry was being conducted. A reference to the Minutes would furthermore show that the discussion which took place after his departure concerned the form in which the motion of censure should be recorded rather than the verdict on Mr. Blizard's alleged actions.

Another particular allegation your editorial contained was that "we must not mention sex . . ." On the question of sex, the Executive has made only one statement. On April 22, 1964, it was passed "that we request Salient not to publish the account on contraception from the Consumers' Council"—by a narrow majority of one. The motion amounted to a request and no more. You were free to disregard it. The motion certainly cannot be called an "act of suppression." (See Minutes of April 22). As regards your further charge that "there have been ' attempts to censure Salient, I submit that your charge was groundless. Criticism has been levelled at Salient in Executive meetings; but there was never any attempt by the present Executive to censure Salient or any of its staff.

Finally, it is not denied that the Executive censured the persons holding mock-religious ceremonies.

If such irresponsible action were to arise again, the Executive might even consider the expulsion of such people from the University. Surely no one would care to dispute the presence of this constitutional and moral obligation on the part of Executive members to see that the reasonable limits of student behaviour are observed. Condemn that constitutional power, perhaps, but not the parties implementing the disciplinary power thereby conferred upon them. Had the Executive refused to take action, it would have been guilty of failing to discharge a moral and constitutional burden.

Your editorial, charged with emotionalism, made amusing and entertaining reading. The knowledge that so many innocents might take your word for gospel compels me to make this reply. As to the big question mark featured in your headline, "Have we lost our freedom," I suggest to your readers we have not, yet. Inaccurate journalism would, however, soon see that we get a positive answer to your query. It is sincerely hoped that you would publish this letter and endeavour to correct any misapprehensions which your editorial, possibly written in the heat of the moment, might have planted in the minds of your numerous readers.

Yours faithfully,

B. T. March,

Publications Officer. (Abridged—Ed.)