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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 10 May 28 1968

Apathy Claim — Peretz hits at running of Union

Apathy Claim

Peretz hits at running of Union

The Student Union Management Committee has been called by one of its members "a rubber stamp for Mr. K. B. O'Brien and Mr. Ian Boyd".

O'Brien at present chairman of the committee, represents the University Council; Boyd is the Managing Secretary of the Student Union.

Paul Peretz, a student representative, said in a report to the President of the Students' Association that their dominance was: "Partly a result of apathy and respect for authority by the students on the committee and partly the result of the erosion of power to those who spend most time on Union business."

The report, published just before the first meeting of the Joint Committee on student power, described Management Committee meetings as having an "air of consensus."

Actual discussion was rare and tended more toward questions rather than argument.

The attitude seemed to be that disagreement was to be avoided at all costs.

O'Brien and Boyd, Paul continued, usually had a reserve of information which could be used to defeat alternative proposals.

"Whether they have a similar reserve of information which could be used against their proposals is a matter for conjecture."

Matters on the agenda were usually documented by Mr Boyd.

"The documentation ... leads one directly to the conclusion expressed in (Boyd's) recommendation."

More controversial matters, usually connected with the dining room, were not on the agenda.

Decisions on these matters were made by "the behind the scenes consultation for which Mr Boyd's propensity is near legendary."

The Peretz report also analyses the performance of individual student members of the committee.

Executive decisions were put forward "very tentatively" by Students' Association presidents.

But both John McGrath and Hugh Rennie were willing to question the Establishment.

Chris Robertson "has always been firmly on the side of the Establishment."

Generally, students were too timid, particularly female students.

Unless exceptionally outspoken, women should not be appointed, Paul advised.

Students formed no position on particular issues and did not support each other in committee.

A caucus of student members prior to each meeting was recommended by Paul.

It was a moot point, the report said, whether much harm had come to students because of the situation described.

But it was possible students would benefit from a shift in the balance of power to their direction.

"Then, the general feeling among students that they have no say in the running of the Union, would be lessened."

Paul therefore recommended the appointment of three extra student members to Management Committee and that a student be the next chairman.

He also urged that a student should always be a member of the SUMC's Dining Room Subcommittee. the only body with access to the books of the caterer, Mr Levenbach.

Levenbach has always objected that a student on the sub-committee might lead to the disclosure of his "competitive position."