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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 25. 3rd October 1973

Counselling Overseas Students

Counselling Overseas Students

Dear Editors,

We note the recent advertisement for the position of a student counsellor who would primarily handle the problems relating to overseas students in the campus. We are again alarmed to learn that the requirements to be a student counsellor involve professional training and experience in the fields of counselling or psychology. In other words, the Student Counselling Office intends to deal with the difficulties of overseas students in terms of psychiatric counselling. This is a real and bloody insult to all overseas students. New Zealand must be a "paradise" to produce a kind of people who needs psychiatric treatment. However, this has nothing to do with overseas students. If the Counselling Office tends to solve the problems of overseas students by classifying them as patients who are considered by the so-called counselling experts as mentally-troubled or disturbed, then to hell with the student counsellors!

The overseas students don't need psychiatric counsellors but need lawyers. The primary task of an overseas student counsellor is to defend the interests and welfare of overseas students against the racist and irrational immigration regulations of New Zealand Government. We need an outspoken overseas student counsellor to challenge the racist immigration policy of New Zealand and who is ready to genuinely fight for the overseas students. It is noted that the University of Canterbury Students' Association demanded the employment of an overseas student counsellor who will offer or arrange legal assistance in combating the racism and discrimination imposed on overseas students. This at least begins to realise the real issue of overseas students.

The student counselling experts are so isolated from the overseas students they can never understand what the overseas students need and what are the problems that they are going to face. If they still insist to handle the problems of overseas students with consideration merely in psychiatric method, they can certainly expect only strong resentment and opposition from overseas students. If the student counsellors have little knowledge of Asian culture, custom and habits as well as the political background of the countries, how can they manage to deal with the problem of overseas students by mainly relying upon the western approach of all round psychiatric or counselling (or whatever bloody attractive name one likes to use) treatment? We do not need professional counselling experts but we desperately need fighters and lawyers.

Other universities are considering having independent overseas student counsellors or officers. One would wonder why Victoria University Counselling Office objected strongly to the idea of employing overseas students officers. Is this not trying to maintain a small independent kingdom? Is this not fear of losing power partly to the incoming and possible colleagues?

The whole student welfare service including student counselling service needs to be re-structured or re-organised under the sole control of the student association. If nothing can be done to improve the student welfare service, one will expect to see that the overseas students will organise themselves to wage struggle against New Zealand's racist immigration policy in the coming years.

Yours sincerely,

A Group of Overseas Students