Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Tongue Tied at SRC
Tongue Tied at SRC
Imagine an SRC that actually represents students: no I'm not delirious. If developments at the latest meeting are any indication, we may someday reach that utopia. For more in this exciting story, read on......
All was quiet over the trenches as Gyles Beckford crept into the Union Hall, taking unawares the scattered pockets of students quietly eating their lunches. Apologies and Minutes were deftly disposed of.
Eric Freedman pointed out that contrary to indications apparently given in last week's Salient (a bit before my time actually) the NUIS motion was not "some kind of plot'. It had in fact been tabled beforehand.
Next Tony 'ubiquitous' Ward - those who blinked would have missed him - gave two reports as SRC Coordinator and Film Controller. Apparently 5pm film screenings had been less successful than expected.
Spray of Machine Gun Bullets
So far plain sailing. But waiting in the grass was.... "Election of Delegates to the NZUSA May Council'. Armed only with loaded submachine guns, three candidates battled for the two positions as Chief Delegates. Gyles Beckford, Tony Ward and Mark Sainsbury.
Gyles and Tony claimed that they should be elected because they knew what was going on, and Mark who claimed to really represent student opinion because he was "a grass-root student" rather than "one of those committee type people". His views were supported by a large number of dart throwers, hissers and general stirrers who obviously had a point to make - disgust at the fuckery of student politics. I think, however, they could have expressed it in a lot more positive ways.
Anyway after a division and a second vote, Tony and Gyles were finally elected.
The election of Welfare and Accomodation delegate resulted in a similar situation. Three nominations were made - Scott Wilson (Accomodation officer), Chris Wylie (Welfare Officer) and Mark Sainsbury.
Tony Ward outlined the importance of work to be done in both these areas (especially with regard to the university's threat to make us pay for welfare services) and moved an amendment that both the accomodation and welfare officers be sent ex-officio. Mark Sainsbury asked why have elections at all if the same members are always elected. This time his anti-officialdom stand carried through as the amendment was lost and then Mark elected as delegate.
Thus the 'anti-politics' body of the meeting made their point, but again in rather a negative way.
Morris Defeats Freedman
Election of International Affairs delegate also involved a bit of political wrangling. The Israel debate sparked up as Leonie Morris and Eric Freedman faced some rather heavy questioning about their personal attitudes and willingness to support VUWSA policy that might disagree with their own views. The Jewish Soc. members were obviously concerned whether Leonie would support the VUWSA policy on Israel, although she personally disagrees with it. Those on the other side of the political fence were equally concerned that Eric would ignore the more important International Affairs problems of Malaysia and the South African tour. After a close vote Leonie was elected.
Then in quick succession delegates were elected for National Affairs (Kevin Swann), Education (Lindy Cassidy, Education Officer), and Finance and Administration (Steven Underwood). The monotony was only broken by a cunning, but alas unsuccessful attempt to have the Welfare and Accomodation Officers included under the banner of Finance and Administration; ah, the slyness of students knows no bounds
If you don't want to read this list of student reps elected to university committees, at least read about the first one, for that seems quite important. Lindy Cassidy (ex officio) and Rae Mazengarb were elected for the Teaching and Research Committee. This represents the only body with University approval that is studying the effects of different forms of assessment.
Other reps elected were; Council, until June 30, (Gyles Beckford); Catering sub-committee (Alex Tully); Language and Literature (Neil Morrisen); Commerce and Administration (Kevin Swann), two positions still vacent; Joint Committee, meets once every four or five years!, (Don Carson, John Ryall, Simon Treacy), University Extension (Roger Palmer); and there was nobody yet mug enough to sit on the Teaching Aids, Timetables, and Careers Advisory Committees. However, these positions are open to any student, so if you do want to become a student rep just make yourself known at the next SRC.
All Quiet on the SRC Front
By this stage interests were rather flagging, so for the next motion a rather half-hearted debate culminated in the chair having to urge those present to actually vote at all.
The motion proposed the redrawal of the Asian Students' Association Boundaries to exclude the Middle East, thus obviating any more debate on the subject and also allowing for better administration of an area that at the moment stretches half-way round the world. It was admitted that if this motion was introduced by New Zealand at ASA, it would not even find a seconder.
However it was generally agreed that simply making a political statement is important in itself (or else why would SRC be passing motions week after week?).
A motion on Women's Studies courses involved a similar discussion of tactics. At the moment the course is treated rather contemptuously by the University Administration - there is no provision for salaries, expenses or library space.
The motion deplored this and also called for further courses, particularly a segregated course for women only to help them understand and fight their oppression. It was stressed that this apparently sexist proposition was a temporary but necessary expedient; an all-women group would provide an atmosphere in which it would be easier for women to come to terms with their own conditioning. Everybody agreed with the idea, but some felt such an open statement of political viewpoint would simply alienate the Administration.
Again we decided its important to stick up for a principle, even if you think nobody is going to listen.
HART Takes the Offensive
Hart gave notice of their intention to book the Activities room continuously until the Anti-tour mobilization of May 28th. Until then the Activities Room (next to T.V. room) will be the Varsity Hart centre where you can drop in to work or talk or get information or ideas.
Towards a Democratic SRC!
And now, what you've all been waiting for; people started asking questions like; 'Why is all this so boring?', 'Why is nobody here?', and most particulary 'What can we do about it?'.
Patently SRC does not represent the majority of students. More effective publicity was suggested, but as Tony Ward said 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'. In other words the majority of SRC business is only interesting or even intelligible to those involved directly in student politics.
Don Carson said SRC had the potential to be very powerful - Vic is the only campus with an open SRC - but that its decline was based on a vicious circle; it is powerless because nobody is interested and nobody is interested because it is powerless. Somehow the spiral must be reversed. A few scraps with the university are what is needed.
So if you see injustices in the present system (and you would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to), don't mutter them to yourself; speak up at SRC.