Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 8. 1964.
Youth Forum Aim Faulty
Youth Forum Aim Faulty
The Forum was a poll of majority opinion that really provided nothing new.
The youth group (18-30) forms approximately 53 per cent of the voting population. The Forum had a crosssection of NZ middle-class, respectable, and mainly nonprofessional youth (5 per cent of NZers are of the professional class). We had little time to prepare, and had only the minimum of background information. Most speakers were didactic in their approach, and little attempt was made to present divergent opinion before the Forum; because time was limited? Or because it could have been dangerous? So did we inexpertly generalise, and provide uninformed answers. Did they want these? I don't think so.
Motions were turned down on the account that the knowledge was too detailed and not representative of NZ youth. The political parties should capitalise on this knowledge of the vague wants and the vague ideals of the majority of NZers.
The aim of the conference was extremely limited: discovering the ideas of the majority of NZ youth. In this it succeeded, but how valid are these ideas, and to what use are they going to be put? If they are to guide future legislation, surely a conference of students and graduates, comprising a crosssection of informed opinion, would be of more value. The reasons for Haas's expulsion amplified this, as did the attitudes of the other student rapporteurs. If they coloured their groups' findings, then it was because of their eagerness, and their noticeably higher involvement with the problems In hand than a good half of the delegates attending.
We were prone to double standards. We accuse our parents of these, yet at this conference had them ourselves. The chief rapporteur estimated from the individual group findings that approximately 70 per cent of the delegates had had pre-marital sex ("we were engaged, of course"). However, in the final plenary session it was moved that we did not condone It. Of course, since the masculinity of the NZ male isn't in doubt, there was no mention of the crime of homosexuality.
Concerning the use of our leisure time: yet, we wanted more Youth Organisations and more grants to run them. The importance of sport, and participation in groups (of more than two). Healthy activities were emphasised at the Forum, not only by the speakers, but also by the presence of Murray Halberg and John Davies. Where were our famous writers, poets, artists?
In general, the individual was forgotten. Peter Bland's indignant cry, "what about the individual?" during discussions on the Importance of group activities momentarily evoked a sympathetic response from the Forum—momentarily, though. The importance of being a member of the group and our dependence on the munificence of the State breast (aren't we the State that caters for its citizens from the womb to the tomb?) has weaned us from our Individuality.
Thus inevitably the findings of the conference reiterated the same beliefs and fallacies that the massmedia and public opinion generally have decreed NZ youth should hold.
By Nigel Roberts who went to Youth Forum. A second year industrial design student at Tech, he gave up school teaching because he couldn't stand staff rooms, cups of tea or infant mistresses.