Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 38, Number 25. 2nd October 1975
The significance of last Friday's SGM does not merely lie in what policy was decided. After all, the results were fairly predictable. Equally important must be the telling indictment upon shabby student politics it proved to be. Making such proceedings is not easy and I suggest if anyone wants a more factual account they read the epilogue of "A Separate Reality" by Carlos Casteneda.
The meeting was characterised by fathomless group psychology that seemed to compel protagonists of whatever "side" on whatever issue, to heckle, interject, boo, hiss, scream and shout, over the top of anyone they happened to disagree with. This had the apparently desired effect of intimidating speakers and the standard of debate suffered accordingly. The speeches that could be heard, however, generally differed from each other less by the point of view they expressed than the degree of imbicility they managed to attain. "Heavies" and featherweights alike, heaping up mountains of words, withered and perished from neglect, as people paid more attention to catholic jokes, darts, sexist comments about feminists and various other asides.
"That this association recommend to NZUSA that a further research officer be appointed to take the place of the proposed Welfare Vice-President and that this association accept an increase in the levies to NZUSA to $1.50 in order to pay for the proposed officer."
Despite a convincing spiel and a hard sell by Alick Shaw, Peter Franks and President Sacksen, the motion was strongly defeated for no apparent reason at all (unless we assume people were convinced by the "jobs for the boys" demagoguery from a few speakers who should have known better and a few who didn't know at all).
"That all previous policy relating to abortion be rescinded and that the association policy be as follows:
(i) That this association condemn the unjust social conditions which oppress women and lead to unwanted pregnancies and the wish to terminate them. (ii) That this association fight against these conditions by in part strongly urging that a high priority be given to sex education. This to include demands for free contraception and advice for any individual requiring such. (iii) Also that provision be made to allow women to obtain abortions on the grounds determined by the woman concerned and her doctor."
The first two were passed almost unanimously, the third being the bone of contention Fight people spoke for and six people against. The motion was then put and declared passed at about the same majority ratio. This met with a loud burst of applause. People screamed with delight and ran in all directions. Trots and Maoists hugged each other in fond embrace. Alick Shaw's voice was actually drowned in the noise. Meantime Cath' soe'ers and CU'ers donned sackcloth and ashes as Madam Chair shouted for order and then declared the meeting closed (collapsing with exhaustion as she did so). Closing the "meeting" at this juncture was all that could be done. This was regrettable however since there remained three other items on the agenda of equal importance that were not dealt with. Still, socially concerned students can't do everything and even SGMs have to end sometime.
Thus it was that about four to five hundred people managed to spend two hours of their lives last Friday. So if you intend to read next week's SRC report, don't bother! We might just make it all up or say it was cancelled because of too much interest. Whichever way, it would be just as constructive.