Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 5. 1967.
Record number of candidates
Record number of candidates
Over 60 nomination papers were handed in for the presidency of the Students Association. Two nominations were received for Secretary and none for Treasurer.
Returning Officer, Tony Lendrum, was faced with the mammoth task of checking the validity of about 160 signatures. Candidates, nominators, and seconders all have to be checked.
Several nominations were declared invalid because the persons concerned were not members of the Students Association or in some cases where they appeared to be fictitious persons. Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh and the inevitable Toro were among this group.
Withdrawals reduced the presidential candidates to about forty by Tuesday night.
One nominee told Salient he had been asked to withdraw by the Returning Officer. "I considered this to be a reasonable request, so I withdrew,'' he said. "I understand that the Returning Officer intends to ask as many candidates to withdraw as possible. "
There could well be more withdrawals as candidates will be allowed to withdraw their nominations right up until the time the ballot paper is printed (probably on Friday April 28). After this date the only effective withdrawal would be by a candidate making it known that he is not a serious contender.
When nominations closed at 5pm on Monday, acting President Heughan Rennie said the presidential nominations could be divided into three groups, "the anarchistic, the vexatious and the serious."
As soon as it was rumoured that there were phenomenal numbers of presidential candidates, a requisition calling for a Special General Meeting was circulated. When handed to Mr. Rennie 53 students had signed. But it was ruled invalid as it did not set down a specific motion.
Caroline McGrath, who initiated the requisition, told Salient, "All we wanted was a chance for students to get together and talk it over in a friendly manner. Since the issues have been discussed by many students in a more informal atmosphere, our purpose has been largely achieved. Perhaps some nominees withdrew because they saw how we felt."
A press statement claiming responsibility for "the recent plethora of presidential candidates," found its way to Salient on Sunday. It was signed by Geoff Rashbrooke, Dave Fergusson and George Seconi. The latter two are both presidential candidates.
"Presidential elections have always been rather dull, with a poll of 40 per cent being considered heavy, and we thought a profusion of candidates would arouse interest in the elections among the more torpid sectors of the student body," the statement read.
"We feel every student will be able to find a candidate he or she can vote for, the poor choice offered in past elections doubtless being a major reason for low polls. Students are more intelligent than student politicians think.
"We would emphasise that we didn't really expect quite such enthusiasm for the idea."
Of the presidential candidates themselves, Capping Controller Douglas White is the only current executive member. Though a former member, Denis Paxie, is standing, Neil Wright of, forum, the literary society and Pooh Club fame, and Owen Gager, editor of Dispute, well-known left winger and forum speaker, figure among the candidates.
Two current executive members will battle for secretary. They are Cultural Affairs Officer Larry Stenswick and Sports Officer Geoff Rashbrooke.
Mr. Rashbrooke says he was the originator of the scheme to promote the influx of presidential candidates. Some students told Salient that they feel this has inpeded his chances of becoming secretary.
Voters will not be faced with the onerous task of listing all candidates in order of preference. The constitution requires that preference be indicated for "not more than four (4) of the candidates.
Only where a candidate fails to secure more first preference votes than half the number of first preference votes cast, do the preference provisions come into effect.
Despite the large number of candidates, an election supplement will be published. The usual type of publication would cost the Students Association about £200. Funds to this extent are not available so that the supplement will most likely take the form of cyclostyled sheets.
One interesting point that has emerged from the affair is that Mr. Lendrum is not strictly eligible to be Returning Officer. He is only a second year student, yet the constitution lays down that the Returning Officer "shall be a member of at least three years standing."
"In my opinion, the present situation shows an unfortunately irresponsible attitude towards the Association amongst a small number of students," said Mr. Rennie.
He was satisfied that no irregularities had taken place and he assured Salient that the election would be held as scheduled.