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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33, No. 2 4 March 1970

NZUSA & VUWSA — 1970 Presidents Report on the Two Unions

NZUSA & VUWSA — 1970 Presidents Report on the Two Unions

The Students' Association over the last few years has been a most striking example of the dynamics of change. When I first arrived at Vic (four years ago) the Association was composed of fewer than five thousand students and was completely run by an executive of fifteen students who made all policy and financial decisions (except certain important decisions which were taken by a General Meeting of the Association). Constant allegations of 'cliquishness' and 'in-group politics' were levelled at the Executive, both in Salient and in general conversation. The Executive of that time met every 2 or 3 weeks. Executive members were efficient and capable, Presidents had a genuine desire to be responsive to student views and the Executive elections were hard-fought and polls were high.

Now, four years later, the Association comprises 5,700 students and the Executive comprises eight students who make all financial decisions of the Association. The only link between the students elected to the Executive is an interest in the Association — this year's Executive form a good working group and get on very well together but did not know each other, except on a very casual basis, prior to election, and did not come from any clearly definable group of student interest. All policy decisions of the Association are to be made by weekly meetings of the SRC (which is open to all students). The Executive elections in 1969, however, were characterized by a lack of candidates, a lack of vigorous campaigning, and a very low poll.

I believe that the changes which occurred had the following causes:
1Increasing general student interest in expressing policy on matters of local or general interest, accompanied with and probably partly sparked off by, a group of intensely interested so-called 'radical' students. This interest was illustrated by the high poll for Mike McCarthy in the Presidential election last year, and was part of the reason for the SRC winding up in the 'come-all' format which it did. I think this is what we need — some good high-rising yeast in our otherwise rather stodgy dough, and the process of fermentation is, to my mind, part of what a university is about.
2Colourless Executives and an inefficient sub-committee system. The sub-committees (for example, Public Relations, House Committee) had been dying ducks for some time, but 1969 took the prize for insipid Executives. There was a singular lack of inspired, mad or even funny action and this lack was equalled by a masterfully irrelevant Salient during the year. I was on the Executive — I know that it did its work and did it well. But there was little spark of life except that provided by Gerard Curry.
3The characters of the Presidents of the last few years. I admire John McGrath, Doug White and Gerard Curry. Each one of them acted as he honestly thought was in the best interests of all students. So, I hope, shall I — but mine will be in a rather different role. Each of the previous Presidents mentioned saw, I think, the dangers of government through benevolent dictatorship rather than participation, and each worked hard to ensure as broad a base of representation as he could.
Margaret Bryson, 1970 VUWSA President

Margaret Bryson, 1970 VUWSA President

Well we've got it, due largely to their efforts. We've got student participation on University committees and we've got student representation in its most direct, challenging and promising form, in the SRC. What we need now is action, not words. If the whole structure is not to collapse through inertia, we must get it moving. That's easy to say, I suppose, and again it is action we require. So let it now be understood — to give a fair choice for student reps on University Committees SRC will need at least 70 people standing for appointment. There is a great deal of work to be done by SRC sub-committees — especially Education and International Affairs. Large active committees are needed to work from the beginning of the year. You don't need to be an expert to work on these. Okay — advertisement ends.

Where do we go from here? I think we have reached, on paper, a most exciting concept of advanced democracy within the University. This year the paper theories of participation and representation must be made to work in fact and consolidated into a functioning system. That sounds dull — it needn't be. Basically, the future, particularly the long-term future, is up to you. We've come to the paper recognition that the Association is its students. Do you want to save Manapouri? To have a'charity week' during Capping? To put seats in the Mount Street Cemetry? To have a full discussion on whether marijuana should be legalized? To meet at SRC weekly? To have a new Student Union Building and/or a swimming pool? To halt the All Black tour? What do you want? The Association is what we make of it. What do you want in a biscuit?

Applications are hereby called for student representatives on the undermentioned University bodies. Appointments will be to 31 December 1970 except where otherwise stated.

Committees of the University Council
Joint Committee of the University Council, Professorial Board and Students' Association 4 members
Ceremonial Committee 2 members
Standing Committee for Purchase of Works of Art 1 member
Careers Advisory Board 1 member
Student Accommodation Advisory Committee 1 member
Boyd Wilson Field Allocation Committee 1 member
Student Union Building Planning Committee 3 members
Student Union Management Committee 4 members
Joint Committee on Review of Student Union and Student Welfare Services (ad hoc) 1 member for indefinite period
Committees of the Professorial Board
Committee on University Entrance. Bursaries and Entrance Scholarships 1 member
Committee on Interdisciplinary Activities 1 members
Library Advisory Committee 2 members
Teaching Aids Committee 1 member
Faculty Committees
Faculty of Arts 2 members
Faculty of Languages and Literature 2 members
Faculty of Commerce and Administration 1 members

The new representatives will be elected at the meeting of the Student Representative Council in the Main Common Room S. U.B. on Thursday 12 March 1970 at 12.30 p.m.

Applications close with the undersigned at the Students' Association Office on Wednesday 11 March at 4.30 p.m.

Denis Phelps Secretary.