Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 10. 1964.
Editorial — Impact of the ISC
Impact of the ISC
The Responsibility of the student to the society in which he lives, which was the moving spirit of the International Student Conference, has its implications for the New Zealand student.
A Student Community is ideally situated in the social fabric, for from its key vantage point where it taps the knowledge and enterprise of a University, it can be the progressive and liberal force which every society needs. In addition, the student is less fettered by the vested interests hampering the adult world, the commercial lies which restrict his free expression. His position of neutrality as a member of a community searching for a fuller understanding of man's condition is a factor which equips him for making positive contributions to social welfare.
The majority of the national unions of students who evoked from the International Student Conference motions of condemnation of their national regimes, are not in the same position as New Zealand students, in their official body, the New Zealand University Students Association. Their problems are immediate and direct—ours lie under the surface and are harder to trace. New Zealand's immediate stability is no guarantee to continual good living, her placidness may be her undoing. Problems do face the country—economic, social, political and in the realm of international relations.
NZUSA has shown, in recent times at least, a consistently apolitical approach to these issues. Generally no attempt is made to involve students in public affairs, certainly not to embroil them. When efforts are made they are mainly ineffectual or half-hearted (even on solely student issues). Part of the reason for this lies in NZUSA's structure, but the deliberate policy is also responsible, the policy peddled by conservative Presidents throughout the country.
Here Victoria has shown a noncomformist tendency. Peter Blizard, our immediate past President is, according to the present President of NZUSA, probably the first at Victoria since 1948 to advocate a consistent policy of speaking out in public.
Most Presidents, Tom Robins included, missed the stimulating atmosphere of the ISC—an historic event for New Zealand Students—but it is to be hoped that he will nevertheless continue and extend the policies of his predecessor and attempt to implement the spirit of the charter of the ISC.
There are problems associated with this policy. It will not be possible to satisfy all students with varying political biases. It is no doubt possible that many uninformed toes will be trodden on by misinformed and misguided executives. Individuals using the name of the students' association to further their own political ends is also a cause for concern; but here, as in the above, the solution lies in constant vigilance by the student body.
In the same way, the sectors of the community whose interests may be prejudiced by the student outcry may retaliate with common economic pressures, with barrages from the daily and gutter press.
But there will be on the other hand, liberal forces in the community who will be gratified to see signs of student integrity.
The slogan of the 11th ISC may be translated to the New Zealand scene in reality as well as appearance: "A Free University in a Free Society."