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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 No. 3. 15th March 1972

Motions Question Chaplains' Privilege

Motions Question Chaplains' Privilege

Two motions have helped bring back controversy into the Student Representative Council by attacking the University chaplaincy. In essence these are: 1) The Chaplain's registration should not be handed out along with essential enrolment cards, 2) The Student's Association should no longer provide the Chaplain's with a room specifically for their use in the Union Building.

Peter Wilson says that he is in no way intending to be anti-religious in moving these motions, but that the University chaplaincy should be on the same basis as other voluntary organisations and not have entrenched privileges.

The chaplains described their position as follows: Victoria University has never officially recognised the presence of chaplains on the campus (unlike the other five universities!. It has, however, appreciated their presence end been happy to use them as counsellors. Long before an official Student Counselling Service was set up, students of all religious faiths and of none had been going to chaplains for counselling. The need for counselling, demonstrated by the amount actually done by chaplains, played a significant part in influencing the authorities to set up student welfare services in our universities.

Today, chaplains play two roles. They continue to serve the university community as a whole in a welfare rote. Even though we now have excellen student counselling and student health services, many students still prefer to turn to a chaplain - even though fifty per cent of those consulting a chaplain have no active church allegiance. Problems that are dealt with include those of personal inadequacy, emotional disturbance difficulties of relationship, academic difficulty, accomodation, sexual problems (including homosexual)., depression, career confusion, lack of purpose in life, as wall as the specifically religious.

Of value to the chaplains in performing this role is their field work: their visits to students in schools before they arrive at university, and their contacts with students in hostels and in their homes through which the troubled students can sometimes be put in touch with other people who can help him in his difficulty. The chaplains also work in close contact with the other members of the Welfare Services.

The second role of the chaplains is as ministers to the Christian members of the university. Not only do students seek them out in this capacity, staff at all levels - academic, administrative and domestic - value their presence also. Nevertheless the number of students alone who express an interest in religious activity by their response at enrolment is surprisingly large - about 1150 in the 1971 enrolment (1972 figures are not yet available, but they are certainly greater).

Despite the different circumstances of their appointment, the thee chaplains work together as a united team to serve the university. Most of their activities are planned together at regular staff meetings, and each is available to any member of the university regardless of his religious affiliation.

Chaplains came to Victoria because students and staff wanted them there. They will remain as long as there is a sufficiently large number who make use of them either in their general welfare role or specifically as Christian ministers. The fact that the need for chaplains continues to that in response to requests the team of chaplains has grown from one in the nineteen forties to three full-time chaplains in the seventies indicates that the need for chaplains continues to grow as the university expands.