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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 8. 19th April 1973

Counselling Rebels

Counselling Rebels

Dear Sirs,

In reply to the letter regarding the counselling service signed by 'A Group of Rebels', who are apparently so ardently rebellious that they find it preferable not to identify themselves by name, I should like to say that while as they suspect the Student Counselling Service may well be playing an important role in supplying information about students to the Labour Department' their spirit of rebellion evidently does not extend to the simple act of first inquiring of the counsellors as to whether or not such events do in fact occur. Neither, it would appear, have they bothered to find out answers to their further questions such as whether or not a personal file of a student will be destroyed on request, or regarding the nature of the power relation of the counselling service to the University authorities.

The paragraph regarding the petty stories of the academic staff sounds itself more like petty backyard gossip than a statement made on the grounds of evidence, and it seems most unusual and contradictory to say the least that those who would choose to see this service as one with aims of diverting 'the rebellious tendency of the students against the establishment', should regard staff members of this university as being in need of protection. Judging from Neil Wright's article on academics in this year's handbook they are not really grossly suffering at the hands of anyone let alone at those of the counselling service.

There is little doubt that many social work services, and the counselling service is a social work service, do function as 'tools' of the so-called 'establishment' and many of these services should be investigated and questioned. The counselling service, however, is hardly as guilty of performing such a role as are the social work and welfare services offered by such organizations as the Department of Social Welfare, of Justice, of State Advances, of Health etc.

The 'Rebels' letter further suffers from a confusion as to just when overseas students and their specific problems are being referred to and when all students are included in the remarks made. While conceding, then, that there is, in all probability, a case to be made in the interests of overseas students, as regards the rest of the student body in general, no-one is 'forced' to place themselves under the 'power and influence' of the counselling service. Unlike many people in New Zealand who come into contact with social work counsellors, students have both a choice in, and an awareness of, what they are doing when they ask to see a counsellor and they are free to leave an interview and reject the services as they please. Many of 'A Group of Rebels' fellows living in this country are refused both this valuable freedom of choice and the awareness of the functions of the social work process in relation to the power structure in our society.

These self-described 'rebels', therefore, would have a more effective case if they had first investigated the activities of the counselling service before presenting their garbled complaints, and further if they would cast their myopic pseudo-radical eyes in the direction of those people whose 'anger' really is being 'checked' and whose 'unrest' realty is being 'calmed', people to whom a university is a foreign country and students aliens, but people whose money is being used to enable such 'rebels' to be in a position to write such ill-constructed and inadequately substantiated accusations.

Wendy Mence