Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 1. 28th February 1973
A day or so before enrolment started the staff held a seminar which talked, for two days, about the university as a 'community'. Apparently the only real result of the meeting was to send everyone away feeling a lot more depressed than they had been before they went to it.
No doubt the debate will go on about the purpose of the university in society, how the university can become a 'community' and the relations between various groups inside it. Of course while the soul searching goes on many of the staff and the administration, and the great majority of students, will carry on regardless. Students, after all, come to university to find out how they can get the most highly paid (and highly regarded) jobs in society. They come to learn how to rule the masses outside, who, ironically enough, pay for the students' education. And students certainly do not come to university to talk earnestly about how the university can become a 'community'.
We are quite willing to see debate in the columns of Salient about the nature and purpose of this university. We intend to encourage and provoke such discussion. Those who govern the university, like the people who govern society at large, are far too secretive about the things that are going on at this place. For example the Vice-Chancellor, the University Council and the Professorial Board did not encourage open debate last year on either the Dale report on the University Administration (outlined in Salient 7. 1972) or the report of Professor I.D. Campbell on the student demonstrations at the P.B.E.C. conference at Victoria in May 1972. The silence of those who run this university doesn't inspire us to spend all our time rushing round trying to promote 'dialogue' among students, staff and the administration.
But even if people were willing to talk openly about the purpose of the university, even if they were to take up the suggestion made by one lecturer a couple of years ago and close the whole place down for a year in order to devote everyone's time to debating these matters, we do not think a great deal would have been achieved. The relations between the university and the society outside it are far more worthy of discussion and action than the relations between the different groups within the university. Change in the university will only come once real changes have begun to take place in the community outside.
The most important changes in the relations between the university and society in recent years have been in the developing links between the university and the business world. More money and time are being spent on training students to serve big business interests, not only in training future executives in fields like marketing, but also in training people to help protect profits by minimising industrial conflict through the Industrial Relations Centre. These growing links are making the university increasingly more a part of the problem in society and less a part of the solution.
The only way staff, students, and administrators at this university can make any real contribution to changing it is to get out and work for change in society at large. This is not to say that the responsibility of questioning the purpose of the university should be neglected, but time devoted largely to worrying whether or not there is a feeling of community in the university is time lost in the far more important job of questioning the nature of our present society. It's far easier to take action on the increases of prices in the cafe than it is to take action on increasing prices of basic commodities for housewives. A splendid cricket pavilion at Kelburn Park isn't too difficult to get. Decent recreational facilities in working class suburbs are. The bureaucracy of the Students Association can be overthrown and destroyed with a lot less effort than it takes to get rid of parasitic trade union officials who are servile to the bosses.
We think that people who talk a lot about changing the university have a responsibility to get out and try to help change society first. For that reason Salient this year will be concerned with what is going on outside the university far more than we will be concerned with what is going on inside it. We feel we have a responsibility to provoke debate inside the university but we believe that things like the people's and the Government's ignorance of, or failure to act on, matters of international concern, and inequitable social conditions at home, and the failure of local newspapers to serve their readers, for example, are becoming more important to report and discuss.
— Peter Franks & Roger Steele
The Fillups File
Walked into the Salient office the other day, where I found Roger Steele pondering over the use of the ablative absolute in a piece by Peter Franks. Roger and Peter are supposed to be the editors of the paper, although I noticed that gorgeous Frith Jennings and lithesome Cheryl Dimond were doing all the work. Immediately to hand with a cup of tea was cub reporter Gyles Beckford, who accidently upset a pile of letraset on the way. This piece of clumsiness provoked a flurry of oaths from graphics artist Royal Abbott, while the comics editor, Ted Sheehan, nonchalantly continued reading Mr Natural in the corner. Suddenly the door burst open and in strode ace publishing consultant Graeme Collins, chewing gum as usual. In and out of the room marched photographers Bob Good, H.T. Lee and Grub, each cursing the others others' mixing techniques under their breath. Around the corner in Committee Room Three sat court reporter Don Franks, idly throwing darts at a picture of the late and unlamented Leon Trotsky. I wandered down the corridor and found petite typiste Irene Kennedy belting out the copy at 84 words a minute. Next door a harassed Peter Wilson was on the receiving end of an irate telephone call from the printer George Mead of Wanganui Newspapers. Peter has the odious responsibility of being President of the Students' Association, which publishes Salient. As they showed me to the door Roger and Peter confided that many more hands are needed on the Salient ship. So just sign on at their office on the first floor of the University Union Building, or phone them on 70-319 (ext. 75 or 81). If you can't get up there send your contributions to P. O. Box 1347, Wellington, New Zealand.
Cheerio till next week!
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