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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Number 2. 11th March 1976]

The President Speaks

The President Speaks

'For whom does the university exist?

Fear not my friend it exists not for you!

The author of the above quotation may have been something of a hardened cynic, but the sentiments are only too readily visible here at Victoria.

Photo of Gyles Beckford

An ideologue would say that the university exists to reinforce the control which the ruling class ethics and norms have on our society, and in many respects this is true. But on a more basic level the university can often be seen as a self perpetuating institution which absorbs students and spits them out as 'educated units' ready to take their place within society. An essential part of this process is the administration housed in the Robert Stout building. Very often the university is only too willing to fall in with the wishes of those downtown, and this is often to be the detriment of students.

A recent example of this is the course EDUC 335. The facts are somewhat blurred but the lesson and the principle stands out clearly. This course was advertised in the calendar and on the surface appeared like any other graduate course, with the usual pre-requisites.

However, what people enrolling for the course were not told was that there was a restriction on the numbers allowed to take the course. Naturally when students heard that some of them would supposedly not be allowed to take the course they were upset and had the good sense not to just sit there and accept it as gospel.

It now transpires that the reasons for placing a restriction on the course were really none of the university's doing and they were merely obliging a government department. But the disturbing thing is that with no prior warning to students, and on the authority of the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, (action on behalf of the University Council) a restriction was placed on this course. It seems that in the list of priorities, students were well and truly at the bottom.

The circumstances of this case are special but it seemed that students were certainly the last people to be considered when this decision was made. The important lesson to come out of this incident is that in many decision making processes at the university students are neither consulted nor taken into consideration.

Where this happens then it is essential that students take the initiative in their own hands and be prepared to fight the academics and the administration.

This same attitude must be adopted when people are looking at their courses in the first few weeks of this term. If there are faults or problems then the time to act on them is now and not later in the year when it is too late to bring about change. It is also important that people are willing to stand up and fight if necessary for what they see as being legitimate and just demands.

Remember that the university does not exist purely to satisfy the demands and whims of university administrators, downtown businessment, or politicians. Make the university work for you as students, not vice versa.

Gyles Beck ford