Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
Forum — "Why I Am Pissed Off With This Place"
"Why I Am Pissed Off With This Place"
Signs of discontent around the campus have become particularly evident this year. The organisers of May Week fell that a forum on "Why I am pissed off with this place" would enable students to air grievances and put The Students' Association in a better position to do something about them.
Peter Wilson began the discussion by pointing out some of the evidence already collected which indicated all is not well. Enrolments have dropped. The number of people using the Union [unclear: fac] ties and involved in meetings and clubs is lower. The drop in social activities has resulted in financial problems for many university organisations, not least the cafeteria. Although the overall use of the library has decreased, the percapita use of the library has increased over the last few years. This year is no exception although the removal of books from closed reserve to three day issue makes this evidence of increased pressure inconclusive.
Many of the 300 students present at the meeting gave personal instances of why they were dissatisfied. Depersonalisation of the university has got worse, it was claimed. People were less willing to chat, share experiences, and were generally more defensive. Two main reasons were forwarded for this. First, there is a greater workload due to course changes and certain academic requirements, and second, traditions of the past such as Procesh have been done away with.
The workload and pressure is high on students for a number of reasons. The credit system and the move toward semester system has tended to increase workload Under the credit system every paper becomes important; weak papers can't be averaged out by strong papers any more. As every paper is important the pressure is on all the time.
Continuous assessment throughout the term has put more emphasis on every item of work being of a reasonable standard. It was pointed out that students create a lot of this pressure for themselves. They have always treated study as a competitive race for scarce grades which requires that everyone compete with maximum labour so as to be one of the lucky individuals who pass
Many of the requirements of departments in relation to work are trivial red tape which increase pressure. These include attendance requirement, term requirements, word limits on essays and marks being deducted for things not relating to the quality of the work.
Procesh for all that
The feeling that the ending of Procesh had caused the problems was also expressed. Although on the surface this seems to be a cause, it fails to analyse the situation. It says that things are bad and if we could only return to the old ways it would all improve. But times have changed. The increased pressure of work means that the burden of organising these activities falls on a few. They are poorly organised as a result and become more hassle than benefit.
Staff Club Liberated
After the meeting about 80 students went and liberated the Staff Club to air their grievances. Two hours of discussion with members of staff ensued as to the nature of the discontent. From the students it was stated that the problems outlined in the meeting were common problems which students faced in trying to gam an education. The implication behind the drop in attendence at university is that in fact the stress sustained in studying is not worthwhile. The scramble for grades and certificates is not an education and has actually stifled the growth of the powers of critical reflection that enable a student to take an active part in changing society.
Certification and grading has been foisted on the university by the business world for the purposes of stratifying students so that they can be fitted in to some appropriate level of society. It is obvious that what is taught in the university its designed to perpetuate the forms of our society. Courses that encourage critical reflection among students would have to start with the experience, of students in their environment. The evaluation of such a course would obviously be personal or measurable by the social changes it produced. This would be subversive of the existing order. Through the means of assessment and academic knowledge that is divorced from social relevance students are domesticated so that they will mindlessly maintain an order that is profitable to a few. The university like all other educational institutions in this country is a factory producing pacified identical products for consumption in the economy. It is little wonder that the pressure is high, the university is depersonalised, and enrolments are falling.
The question still remains: What can be done about the brain-dirtying peddled in the University under the guise of education?