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

Apology Demand

Apology Demand

Dear Sir,

One thing about a cage is that it would provide more shelter from vitriolic attack than the pillories that are becoming standard equipment for those Executive members who have the courage to express and maintain their own opinions.

At a recent S.G.M.. students reaffirmed the right of Executive to take a stand on important issues without the expressed consent of the majority of the Association. Yet whenever Executive does take a stand (as in the case of the regrettable incident at Otaki) you complain of a "guided democracy" and use vicious and biased editorial writing to ridicule decisions and besmirch individual names.

Your headlines in the last issue of Salient were "McCarthy comes to Vic—Have we lost our Freedom?" McCarthyism has come to Vic—in the guise of Salient editorial tactics employed to conduct continual witch-hunts against anyone suspected of being even remotely Conservative.

The ill-feeling engendered by the last Salient is irreparable, but nevertheless I wish to point out a few facts (conspicuously absent from the Salient report) concerning my choice of a speaker at Graduands' Dinner.

The question of Mr. Risk e's political affiliations does not and has never interested me. It was raised at the meeting when his name was first suggested, and at that time I approved of the proposed invitation. Why did I change my vote at a subsequent meeting? Not because of a repetition of the political objections, but because at this meeting it was pointed out that Armour Mitchell had just been appointed Chairman of the Appointments Board and thus would be directly concerned with graduates from now on. He has also worked directly for our Association in many capacities (including that of President) and has proved on numerous occasions that he is a competent speaker. I have known and respected him personally for years whereas I knew very little about Mr. Riske either as a person or as a speaker. On these grounds I approved of the deletion of Mr. Riske's name.

Salient carefully neglected to mention that had the motion rejecting Mr. Riske's nomination been carried, a foreshadowed motion that Armour Mitchell be the speaker would have been put. There was at no time any suggestion of banning a speaker! As far as I personally was concerned both Armour Mitchell and Mr Riske could have spoken at Graduands' Dinner. Since I had to make a choice I consider myself perfectly justified in voting as I did.

I always have and always shall vote in the best interests of Victoria, according to the dictates of my intelligence and my conscience—but not of Salient. I object to any attempt on the part of Salient to restrict my freedom in exercising this right. Things have come to a sorry state when it is necessary for an Executive member to answer to a charge of prejudice where absolutely none existed.

The fact that Executive members strive sincerely to cope with a heavy burden of thankless administrative drudgery is invariably ignored by Salient. Effort and industry are not newsworthy—only sensationalism interests your reporters. I realize that politicians are expected to kowtow to the Press, but cannot see why political graft and prevarication should enter into Executive responsibilities.

Salient's war cry has always been "Freedom of the Press" and rightly so but some members of its present staff have lost sight of other freedoms that are sacred, especially the Freedom of Personal Opinion, and the Right to be Reported Correctly. Freedom of the Press should be earned by responsible and ethical journalism not betrayed by immature and emotional journalese.

Salient used to be a responsible newspaper—"An organ of student opinion". It is becoming an irresponsible organ of isolated students' prejudice—the personal weapon of malicious editors.

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Benefield.

Women's Vice-President.