Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, No. 1, March 1, 1976
NZUSA National Exec — 'Pies and Chips in the Union'
NZUSA National Exec
'Pies and Chips in the Union'
Students at Victoria have always been suspicious of the wheelings and dealings of their national officers, and largely as a result of this NZUSA president Alick Shaw was turned down when he ventured up here last year seeking a rise in the annual NZUSA levy. John Ryall ventured along to the first National Executive meeting for 1976 to see if anything had changed.
The first NZUSA National Executive meeting of the year is a chance for constituent presidents to give some indication of the direction, or lack of direction that their campuses want the national body to follow over the next 12 months.
The first meeting for 1975, held two weeks ago in the Students' Association boardroom, did not make any earth-shattering decisions, but certainly impressed the point that the constituents intend to control the National Office, and not vice-versa.
Several times national officers were held to account over comments they made, or in one case, over actions taken in the last few months. This could mean either that the presidents consider that every decision should be in accordance with the needs and desires of the individual student on each campus, or that there are many presidents trying to shift attention from their own undemocratic associations by using the national officers as whipping boys.
All the constituent presidents were present for the roll call with the exception of mystery-man Dougall Stewart (Massey), who was said to be living with the vice-chancellor's wife. When he appeared, he refused to comment on the charge, but confirmed the rumour that he was the vice-chancellor's son (more scandal!).
His appearance coincided with round one of the scrap between the presidents and the national officers, initiated when Alistair Broad (Otago) questioned the absence of an agenda item entitled Constituents' reports". John Blincoe replied that the National Executive was not a meeting of constituents' representatives, but was an independent management committee for organising the affairs of NZUSA. A co-ordinated hiss from Don Leonardo (Canterbury) and our own Gyles Beckford launched A1 Broad into a stinging attack on this concept arguing that NZUSA was merely its constituents and should be kept in line with their problems and their desires. He muttered that student affairs was really to do with 'pies and chips in the union', and NZUSA should not cut itself off from this.
At this stage Arts Council chairman and ex-Vic president Lisa Sacksen put the problem in its historical context by explaining that last year the presidents had decided that not enough time was being given to discussion of constituents' problems and so had put a certain time aside for a discussion amonst themselves. However, after several abortive attempts, this procedure died a natural death.
This explanation seemed to appease both sides and so the meeting launched into constituents' reports.
A1 Broad (Otago) started the ball rolling by reporting that he was handling his presidential duties while looking after three other vacant executive portfolios. His education officer was trying to control a desperate accomodation situation by organising a mattress appeal for use in vacant halls handy to the university.
The other constituents' reported similar problems with Don Leonardo (Canterbury) commenting on the resignation of three executive members and John Fry (Waikato) trying to outdo him with a report that he was four short.
Massey, Lincoln, and Victoria had either no substantial accomodation problems, no accomodation officers to report on their substantial accomodation problems, or were involved in other issues, such as the Stapleton affair (see Truth for details), which is the latest concern of Mike Walker (Auckland).
The meeting next considered John Blincoe's report on his visit to Melbourne to attend the Australian Union of Students' Annual Council. It appears that AUS is mounting a campaign to sell itself to its members, is considering pulling out of the Soviet-dominated International Union of Students, and has set up a committee to investigate the practices and policies of AUS Travel, which has been accused of behaving imperialistically in the Asian region.
John Blincoe was also at the centre of the discussion on the proposed New Zealand National Union of Students because of his position as chairman of the NUS working party. The working party bombed out when the Student Teachers' Association (STANZ) pulled out, which may be have been a blessing in disguise, for it seems that this year's National Executive is not particularly interested in national working parties.
There was general agreement from all members of the executive about the need for an NUS because of the contradictions that NZUSA ran into with STB. its international contacts, and its bursary submission, when it found itself having to negotiate for all tertiary institutions.
Gyles Beckford emphasised that any moves towards an NUS must come from below and they would not make progress 'until an individual student at Vic understood what he had in common with one at training college'.
After further discussion it was decided to ask John Blincoe (the individual as compared with the NZUSA president) to write a discussion paper for members of National Executive on his personal views on the formation of an NUS.
Asian Stud Ass Conference
Apart from alterations of the new NZUSA office in Courtenay Place and reports on proposed orientation tours by national officers, the only remaining items of interest were reports from Don Carson and Petra Van den Munckhof on their trips to, and attendance at, the Asian Students Association Conference in Bangkok.
Don's trip involved visits to Australia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia (where he failed to get past the airport), while Petra visited Australia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Although two reports were presented, discussion centred around Petra's, which was highly critical of the preparation given her by NZUSA for effective participation in a conference on Women in the Third World, which was run in conjunction with the ASA Conference.
NZUSA accountant Peter McLeod was also very critical of what he termed a waste of NZUSA resources. He pointed out that it cost $1,000 to send the two delegates to Bangkok, plus over a month's salary for the International Vice-president, and it was irresponsible if they were not fully prepared. This feeling was backed up by the presidents, who agreed with the emphasis placed on our Asian commitment, but thought that any future spending should be assessed in terms of value-for-money for both ourselves and the Asian students.
Don Carson was also questioned about his voting on two motions which effectively expelled Israel, and admitted three Arab nations to ASA. Many of the presidents were not happy with his support of the Arab admissions because NZUSA policy indicated that the ASA geographical boundaries should stop at Pakistan.
Both Petra and Don were asked to present more detailed papers for NZUSA May Council, to be held this year in Auckland.