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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 12. 5 August 1970

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Departmental Libraries


For nearly two years the subject of class and departmental libraries has been tossed around among subcommittees of the Professorial Board and Science Faculty Executive. A decision on the proposed Biological Sciences Library in the new Biology extension is being sought at the next meeting of the Professorial Board.

The University Librarian (Mr Sage) and other library administrators are pressing for centralisation of library resources and facilities. The Botany and Zoology Departments want decentralisation of facilities, with publications used in teaching and research conveniently located within the Departments.

At first sight this would not seem to be an issue which involves students, but policies formed at this stage will greatly affect how students use the Library, and what facilities are available. All must know of the financial 'trauma' of the Library, and the increasing pressure on space. Full departmental support, not fragmentation of the Library's facilities, is needed if the problems are to be solved.

The proposed Biological Sciences Library will provide seats for only 28 staff and students. This is clearly inadequate, even if Stage I students are banned from the Library (as at Auckland), and falls far short of the University Grants Committee provision of 1 seat for 4 students. Nor could the library be open for as many hours as the present library in Rankine Brown.

Perhaps more important is the problem of duplication. Most important biological information is published in books or periodicals also of value to students of other departments. Either these must be kept in the Rankine Brown Building (and the biological collection split) or duplicate copies must be bought. If duplicates are purchased the overall diversity is lowered under a fixed budget—this is obviously undesirable.

The original proposal for a Biological Sciences Library was unworkable because of spatial problems. Student representatives on the Library Advisory Committee oppose even the reduced library now planned for the above reasons and because biological publications will be split between the two libraries with resultant confusion. The alternative to the Biological Sciences Library is a Science Library in the Rankine Brown Building consisting of a whole floor with books and periodicals integrated. The student representatives strongly support this plan because it will provide better seating, longer hours of opening, and a greater range of books and periodicals. Unfortunately there is every chance that the staff pressures in the Biology Departments will cause them to opt out of this scheme into one designed for staff and research workers at the expense of undergraduates.

J.A. Bartle

No Confidence


As I was one of those responsible for the calling of a motion of no confidence in the Executive I feel it is justifiable to ask what were my reasons for bringing the motion, and that I should explain the seemingly illogical statements I made at the SGM.

I bought the motion for varying reasons, the main ones being dissatisfaction with the way Executive handled certain matters and dissatisfaction with the policy decisions of SRC.

Confining myself to the latter head the two issues which have received the most attention outside the University are (a) Rugby Tour to South Africa and (b) Abolishing of Procesh.

I wish to confine my discussion to the first head. My personal attitude to the tour was that I opposed the tour on grounds of international politics in that our stand could have affected diplomatic and trading relations with other nations. Moreover it could affect international sporting relations.

However, on moral grounds I came to a different conclusion. I started with a premise that apartheid is morally indefensible. But would the tour help or hinder Africans to throw off the yoke of the white South Africans? On the balance I considered the tour would help break down apartheid.

Whether I am right or wrong is irrelevant. The fact is that I was divided on the issue as an individual and within the university group as a whole there was a strong divergence of opinion.

When the difference is only one of 54% to 37% (and even this figure is suspect as it only represents one third of the student population) I dislike a small majority laying down a blanket statement 'Victoria University Students oppose the South Africa Tour.' This is a simple answer to a complex issue and the correctness of which was disputed by 37%.

It will be immediately said that Executive can do nothing else. By acting on the majority they are acting democratically. I concede the practical force of this argument but I submit that Executive should not publish a blanket statement, which submerges the minority viewpoint.

I believe the university viewpoint should be stated on such issues as the tour because the university is meant to act as a social conscience on the rest of society. But this should not be abused. What made the public newspapers was that Victoria University Students opposed the tour which is a gross misrepresentation of student opinion.

However it is next claimed that all the foregoing discussion is irrelevant to the Executive. They are simply carrying out the policy that was decided by SRC. Blame should be laid on the SRC rather than Executive. I would make two submissions against this argument, a) SRC is not representative of student opinion. It is a body with power but no responsibility. I thought an SGM should be called because I believed rightly or wrongly that an SGM would be more representative and more responsible than an SRC.

SRC is not a forum representative of student opinion. It is held at lunch time in the common room where the bulk of the audience are students having lunch. Interest is low which means minority groups by attending the meeting can dominate proceedings.

There is then a peurile discussion as to whether toilets should be desegregated. The whole thing is a farce. The SRC is meant to be the workings of democracy; anarchy would be a more appropriate word.

It is only a partial answer to claim that students get what they deserve. They should attend meetings and help formulate policy. However many students do not have the time nor inclination to waste time in ridiculous discussion. Important motions undoubtedly come before SRC but one cannot wait indefinitely for them. b) Coupled with (a) is that the Executive can control the SRC to some extent. The Secretary both by the timing of the meeting and the order of the agenda; and the Chairman by his position can help to manipulate events.

Also as the SRC has power but no responsibility the only identifiable body where one can lay a complaint is the Executive. But when one brings action against that body it disclaims all responsibility and uses the SRC as a scapegoat. And the Executive are not entirely blameless if it fails in its duty to correct statements. For example it made no effort to point out that a substantial portion of the students supported the tour. It made no effort to correct Mr Grocott's statement that 30,000 students opposed the tour. Thus our Executive was not expressing student opinion adequately and justified a motion of no confidence being directed at them.

Again I realise as a matter of practical politics no student body would make such a statement as it would have little political effect. However such an Executive always runs the risk of minority groups attempting to make their viewpoint heard.

I have not got the space to explain all my allegations in detail. All I hope to have shown is that the motion was not frivolous or vexatious. So I would claim that either SRC is restructured so that its voice is more representative of student opinion or Executive should be held accountable for policy decisions made by SRC.

P. Barker



Every demonstrator arrested on the streets must have found it repugnant to have his fingerprints taken. Wellingtonians may not be aware that this practice has just been successfully challenged in Christchurch.

Keith Duffield was charged under the Police Offences Act for refusing to be fingerprinted. Mr Duffield is our most persistent and obvious of demonstrators, and as well known as the proverbial town clock. He contended that his fingerprints were not needed to identify him, as he was amply identified already.

The Magistrate, Mr H.J. Evans, took a week to prepare a comprehensive judgment. After thorough search he found no judicial precedents, and looked at the case in the light of the liberty of the subject. The Police Offenses Act authorises the police to take fingerprints "as may be deemed necessary". But who should decide what is necessary: the police, or the courts? Mr Evans ruled that the citizen had the right to test this point in court, and that Mr Duffield had proved his case. The charge was dismissed.

When you think it over, some interesting angles emerge. An arrested man is deemed innocent until he is proved guilty. He cannot be forced to make a statement that will incriminate him. Can he, therefore, be forced to provide evidence against himself by being fingerprinted and thus linking himself with some other incident?

Next, on identification: obviously a man arrested for the first time cannot be identified by his fingerprints. The prints are supposed to be destroyed if he is acquitted; but why take them at all at this stage?

There is a clear case for fingerprinting where, for example, fingerprints have been found on a murder weapon. But what bearing has this on routine fingerprinting in the case of political arrests, where nobody is hiding anything?

The Christchurch Press reported the case on June 5 and June 12, and on June 19 commented editorially: 'The decision means that, as the law stands, police when challenged must forgo taking fingerprints unless they can persuade a court that this form of identification is necessary."

Elsie Locke

The Library


The absence of individual responsibility and integrity among the students of this university is evidenced by the hundreds of books and journals which are stolen from the university Library every year. It does not matter that a student knows himself to be personally blameless of such thefts. Until every student accepts the responsibility as his own to safeguard the integrity of the library collection, by whatever means are available to him, then the thefts will continue and an ever larger proportion of the library's budget will be expended on replacement thus diminishing the amount of money available for the purchase of new books and periodicals. Unless each student acts as he should the standard of the whole library must inevitably decline.

Another instance of the neglect of an individual responsibility is evident in the library. The library is clearly overcrowded at the moment, but need it be? Many library places are 'reserved' by piles of books and notes for periods ranging from a few minutes to several hours, while the owners are in a lecture, or the cafe. The irresponsibility and lack of courtesy and concern for other library users, evident in this action, is compounded when the plight of the many students too timid to remove the offending chattels, is considered. These people, fearing the wrath of the evicted party, are forced to study under hopeless conditions on couches or the floor, or instead resort to scouting the library for ages, seeking the occasional vacant space.

The library need never be overcrowded if its itinerant occupants clear a space as they leave and find another upon their return. Present library rules prohibit the reservation of spaces but this equitable injunction can only be effective with the co-operation of every individual user recognizing his personal responsibility to the others.

Bob Phelps



Your correspondent G.A. Findlay concludes that the July 17 national antiwar mobilisation educated nobody, was a dreary repetition of past antiwar actions, achieved nothing and offered no solutions for Vietnam other than withdrawal of troops.

The fact is that as yet only a small proportion of New Zealanders are prepared to take action against the war, though a significant number, probably a majority, want our troops out. The problem is how do we get from this position to actually forcing the government to withdraw?

Mr Findlay's solution ("contemplation and quiet thought in a library') takes no account of how the movement has been built up. Given a hostile news media, the only way of bringing the issue continually and forcefully before the public at the present stage is to organise steadily bigger and broader mobilisations. There is no short cut in this process; through watering down the 'immediate withdrawal' demand to Norman Kirk's vague platitudes, through merely visiting the library, or through throwing bombs into Army recruiting centres. Mobilisations must be built, and built with the maximum of energy and creativity available. Each time a mobilisation occurs, there are more activists to build the next action.

And it is unquestionable that the movement against the war is deepening in New Zealand. In May this year 300 took part in the Wellington antiwar activity; in July 900 were present at the town Hall rally, and several hundred marched in places like Nelson, Hamilton and Dunedin. The numbers participating across the country were far larger than ever before, and this is a great step forward for the movement.

To an experienced activist, of course, there is a lot of repetition at the rallies and teach-ins. But it is nevertheless new material to the vast majority present: the recent large teach-ins at Waikato and Massey, for example, were the first of their kind in those areas. The reasons why we must withdraw troops, and why we must build actions demanding withdrawal, are the same now as they were in 1965. we should be encouraged that they are now being put before an ever-widening audience as the active antiwar movement expands.

There can be no question that the July mob educated people. Apart from the several hundred hearing the speeches on campus and at the Town Hall, several thousand university and high school students and citizens of Wellington read pamphlets explaining the action. The newspaper coverage was the best for a long time—the Evening Post had forty column inches, including long extracts from Don Borrie's and Andrew Pulley's speeches, the night after the action.

Mr Findlay's final assertion—that the march offered no solutions after withdrawal of troops—misses the main point of the actions. The Vietnamese have indicated several times what they want of us: the one gigantic problem they face is the intervention of the 'allies' to crush their revolution, and our task of building a movement for withdrawal is quite enough for the present. The heroic struggle of the Vietnamese freedom fighters and the growing international mas active antiwar movement give us the hope that in the end the Vietnamese will win the right to determine their own affairs.

G.A. Fyson