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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 7. 11th April 1973

Why are You Here?

Why are You Here?

To get a good degree? What for? Why should you depend on the judgement of your professors only? Why shouldn't we care equally what our friends and neighbours think about it?

To get a good job? What do you want a job for? Who says it's good? For money?

For Security? But you can't tame life and button it up in advance. You'll find you lose more than you gain if you try. Our real security should be through making a community of people who care, not in dead-end ruts with a pension.

To get training and help in society? Enough scientific knowledge already exists to solve all the problems of the world like starvation. This hasn't happened because the imperialist countries and their ruling groups in the poor countries would lose by it. Likewise, within God-zone it is the ruling class which decides which techniques and technologies will be introduced. So why do you think you'll be able to help society when working for a system. If you want to help people — do it directly and forget about an official career. It's only the system which worries about qualifications.

To have a good time? Sooner or later you will probably find that the life of being a 'student' is rather shallow. It is not fundamentally satisfying. Underneath the carefree image, you will find isolation, boredom and fear.

Because you are really interested in some subject? O.K. but we think there is no such thing as 'pure' learning. All knowledge is either useful to the rulers or to those being oppressed. You will probably find that there are certain questions you are not supposed to ask in your subject. For example, if you are doing medicine, you will be discouraged from asking why the course starts with physics, moves on to corpses, and goes on to bits of bodies, never touching the whole person because of the doctor's authority role relationship with an isolated 'patient' or 'case'. Every subject has its forbidden questions. If you take our intellectual work seriously, you will find that very often the emperor has no clothes, the elaborate theories are based on a trick.

Moreover, perhaps you will come to question the whole idea of a specialised academic sector apart from life, apart from the community. Life throws up its own problems for everybody, not just 'students'. These problems require as much tough thinking as the set-piece problems of the established disciplines. And they are not just intellectual problems. They stem from real problems people feel and involve practical work, struggle and experimentation with alternatives. To suggest that learning only happens in a college is to persuade people not at college that they can't learn, and therefore they can't solve their problems.

Or are you here to grow and discover yourself? We do not deny that you have the chance to do this to some extent. But it won't come from mixing only with a narrow range of people. You won't develop intellectually if you are caught in an academic wordgame. You won't develop emotionally if you are caught in a narrow series of inauthentic games with other people. Real thinking and real learning are inseparable from life and the goals you set yourself. It is precisely because we want to encourage you to find youself, your own self, that we want you to question and go beyond the limited role of student.