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

Cowardice in the Milner Affair

Cowardice in the Milner Affair

Sometimes the university can speak out collectively on matters of social justice, and it must do so when it is itself involved in such on, issue. The Godfrey 'spy case' of some years ago was one in which this university did take a firm Stand. There are some who think it has not shone so well more recently. It behaved, I shall always believe, with cowardice in the Milner affair a couple of years back-albeit with rather inconspicuous cowardice. A month or so ago it declined to make a public stand in support of complaints about police behaviour in the Agnew affair, although few within the university who have seen the evidence seem inclined to deny its ' truth.

Internally, universities talk a great deal about freedom. But they do not often come out Strongly for it in public, especially if it means taking an unpopular stand. Thomas Jefferson, writing the constitution of the University of Virginia, pictured a body of scholars dedicated to the criticism of a society that would resist every change that endangered its comforts. These scholars, he believed, "would unmask usurpation, and monopolies of honours, wealth and power". But universities have rarely been centres of political dissent, and in New Zealand almost never. Besides. Mr Gail is watching us. And Mr Gair has said the money can be cut off.