Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Halt the Racist Tour
Halt the Racist Tour
Victoria HART is again strong after a successful Annual General Meeting held before Easter.
The VUWSA Halt All Racist Tours Movement, with nearly 400 members, is the largest club on campus, and has during the last six years probably been the most successful in mobilising large numbers of students in debate and action against oppression, whether it be in New Zealand or in a foreign country such as South Africa.
However like all issue-centred movements, HART virtually went out of business with the advent of the third Labour Government in 1972. Just as large numbers of students were rallying behind the HART banner to stop the Springbok Rugby Tour of New Zealand, Norman Kirk cancelled it and pulled the rug out from under HART's feet.
Since the start of HART's new era of activity (things were pretty quiet for up to a year after the tour cancellation) the efforts of the national movement have been concentrated on building up a mailing list with the general aim of rallying as much grass-roots support as possible.
However with this direction came a very centralised decision-making structure. Decisions were seen to be made at National Council level, and then passed down by newsletter to the individual HART supporters.
The setting up of HART community groups has managed to overcome this to some extent, but the feeling still remains that the ordinary HART member has little control over the organisation's direction.
This was reflected in the activity surrounding the World Softball Championships at Lower Hutt when very few people had any idea of the strategy that was to be adopted and there was very heavy criticism of the effectiveness of constant picketting in places where there was little contact with the public.
Many people were also distressed by the last-minute arrangements made for many of these activities, the picket organisers calling repeatedly on the same group of people.
The HART club's AGM showed that times have certainly changed, with the realisation that HART will only be effective if every members feels that he/she is involved at the centre of the club's decision-making.
Tight Control by Committee
However, the new direction was not achieved without struggle, the HART traditionalists (reflecting the same trends as seen in the national movement), wishing to keep the club very tightly controlled by the committee so that a "correct line" would be maintained, resisted any opening-up of the club's structure, arguing on the basis of organisational efficiency.
NZUSA past-president, Alick Shaw, heading the democrats, said if HART wanted to get 2000 students along to the anti-tour march in Wellington on May 28, then the club must decide its policy and its strategy at a time and place where all members could attend and have their say.
He said this had been the policy adopted by the Anti-War Movement at Victoria University in 1972 and had been very effective in encouraging students along to the mobilisation marches.
"In 1976 there are more people who give vocal support to HART than there were in 1972, but the difficulty is in getting them to be so personally involved in the issue as to act on their convictions."
HART's New Enthusiasm
These thoughts were backed up by others present, most of whom agreed that because of the urgency of the May 28 march, there should be a meeting every week to which all members would be invited by mail.
At these meetings activities would be discussed, the committee would report back on the previous week's work and problems arising from it, and the future direction and strategy would be discussed.
The traditionalists, seeing these proposals as personal attacks on them rather than as positive ideas for taking the issues to the students, tried to put all sorts of administrative hurdles in their way. But after numberous people had volunteered to help with the weekly mail-outs, and Gyles Beckford suggested the Activities Room could probably be used as a campus headquarters, the opposition disappeared and a new enthusiasm emerged.
Suggestions were made for involving students around the university. Fosters are to be painted, lectures are to be leafletted, speakers will espouse their views at all comers of the campus, and socials are being planned - all hopefully leading up to the week or fortnight's concentrated activity before the May 28 March.
So, by the time the HART AGM finished everyone was prepared for the intense activity to come, and most were enthusiastic about the part that they could play.
For anyone with any enquiries, the 1976 officers are:
Leonie MorrisTreasurer -
Mike FreemanCommittee -
Jonathan Scott, Jo Lowe and Neil Morrison.
HART is alive and well and living in the Activities Room. We are going to stop the 1976 Tour and we need your help.
We have an office in the Activities Room (top floor. Union Building) from which we will co-ordinate activities on campus. Come up and see us and give us a hand. Anytime. The Big Day is May 28th when there will be Nationwide Demonstrations of opposition to the tour.
Before this there will be many activities in which you will want to partake. Here are a few - watch noticeboards for more information.
Important strategy meetings for all students: April 29th (Thursday) - noon - Lounge
May 20th (Thursday) - noon - Lounge
Be there with your ideas for this campaign.
|2.||Stein, wine and cheese: Union Hall - Tuesday 27th April. 7.30. A speaker, and food, drink and music galore. Don't miss it.|
|3.||April 29th (Thursday) - All major lectures will be leafleted. We need your help - please come up to our office now and put your name down for a lecture or two.|
Oppose Apartheid - Stop the Tour