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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 8. 10 June 1970

University's political role

University's political role

I do not believe ihe university as a corporate body has any direct part to play in political affairs. Its part surely lies in teaching its students to understand the arts and artifices of politics, and in offering ethical and moral commentary on them; and then leaving each student lo the conclusions of his own intelligence and conscience. Individual members of the university, staff and student alike, can and at limes will play significant political roles. But the diversity alone of the views to be found within a university make corporate action impossible. It is not conceivable to me that the university as a body corporate con adopt an official stance on, to take today's issue, rugby football with South Africa.

I feel much the same about the university as an instrument of social justice. It can be effective by teaching what social justice is or may be, by sending out into the community graduates who understand what liberty and social justice mean, and what are the ways of preserving and extending them. On the whole the university does little about this in formal and organized ways. My youthful experience was that ideas of this kind developed largely by discussion with one's fellow students—often in the late hours of the night or the small hours of morning. I imagine it is much the same today. My chief regret about engineering students is that they don't seem to do much of this, perhaps because their time is so heavily taken up with courscwork. As a result their views are usually sedately conservative on all subjects except, engineering. I extend my regrets also to the other professions, which seem equally sedate and conservative—presumably for the same reason.