Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 14. July 21, 1971
Mobilise July 30th
Mobilise July 30th
The past year or two has seen a considerable shift in the consciousness of New Zealanders over the Indochina war. More and more people from all walks of life have become sick and tired of the continuing Vietnam slaughter, and are beginning to see the need to actively oppose NZ's involvement in it. Last April 30, in an unprecedented display of antiwar sentiment, 35,000 New Zealanders marched to demand the immediate withdrawal of all NZ, US, and allied forces from Indochina.
University students have always played a most important role in the antiwar movement. From the doldrums of a couple of years ago, when students almost alone provided the few hundred marchers that kept the movement in the streets, to the truly massive marches of April 30, in which thousands of students participated in all the university cities, students have been the mainstay of the movement.
It is not surprising then, that this unprecedented rise in antiwar consciousness among New Zealanders that we are now experiencing, has been most marked among students. For example, a recent poll of Canterbury students showed about 80% opposed to NZ's involvement in Vietnam. And on April 30, 60% of Auckland University's 10,000 students boycotted lectures to participate in antiwar activities in support of the mobilisation. The issue among students is no longer whether our government's support for the Indochina war is right or wrong, but rather how can students best express their oppositon to this involvement and get our troops withdrawn.
One of the indications of the rising sympathy for the antiwar movement among students has been the development of strong student antiwar organisations on at least three campuses - Victoria, Canterbury and Auckland. These organisations are concerned with building student support for the antiwar movement and, most immediately, in maximising student participation in the July 30 mobilisation.
The Victoria Student Antiwar Movement has been holding weekly meetings for some time to organise the July mobe. At these meetings the central question discussed has been how to bring the thousands of antiwar students into action on the 30th. Much of the discussion has revolved around the April 30 strike at Auckland University in which 6,000 students participated.
Following on a proposal from the Student Antiwar Action Society and the decision of an AUSA SGM, a student referendum was organised on the question of an April 30 boycott of lectures to release students for antiwar activities. Even before the results of the referendum were known (60% favoured the strike), many lecturers had indicated their support for the boycott by transferring scheduled terms tests to other days.
The boycott enabled thousands of students to participate in antiwar activities throughout the day. As well as a huge antiwar rally in Albert Park, mass pickets were maintained downtown, and several hundred students turned the student union building into a giant placard and banner producing workshop. The boycott provided the means by which thousands of antiwar students and staff could concretely express their opposition to the Indochina war, and through the alternative programme, of activities, build the mobilisation both on and off campus. 17,000 Aucklanders marched on April 30.
For July 30, in addition to Auckland, the Canterbuy Student Mobilisation Committee and the Victoria Student Antiwar Movement are also projecting university boycotts of normal lectures in support of the mobilisation. Successful simultaneous boycotts at three universites will make a tremendous impact on press and public opinion. No politician will be taken seriously who gets up again and calls protesters a noisy minority or tries to identify the bulk of students with the mysterious "silent majority". It will help tremendously in building the image of the antiwar movement as the majority that is crying loudly "Out Now!" - to a deaf government.
Already the Victoria SRC has endorsed the proposal for a referendum on whether or not to stage a boycott of lectures from 12 noon on July 30. The referendum is being held this Wednesday and Thursday (July 21-22). In addition, a meeting of some antiwar staff members last week endorsed the concept of a cancellation of normal lectures, in favour of antiwar activities. They proposed that they and other antiwar staff members prepare material to make presentations on topics related to Indochina, the antiwar movement, and protest in general. They will be encouraging further support for this idea among the staff.
The Student Antiwar Movement is busy organising an attractive programme of activites for July 30. As well as the presentations from lecturers on topics ranging from "Biocide in Vietnam" to "The University as a Generator of Protest", a rally will be held with prominent speakers from the Labour Party, churches, unions, etc, and representatives from the student groups supporting the mobe, together with folk and rock musicians. Also being organised are downtown pickets and mass leaf letting throughout the city, and last minute working bees to manufacture placards and banners for the evening march. As on April 30, a student march will leave from outside the union building at 6.30pm to join the main demonstration at Marion St.
A meeting of the University Council is due to be held on July 27. If, as the Student Antiwar Movement confidently expects, students vote in favour of a July 30 boycott with the day turned over to antiwar activities, the Council will be requested to give its support.
The university boycott is a meaningful way in which every student and staff member can say a loud and clear "No" to our government's policy in Indochina. Support the mobilisation. Vote in the July 21-22 referendum for no lectures from 12 noon on July 30.page break