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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 16, July 12, 1976.

Course Crits

page 5

Course Crits


On Monday 5th July, the students of Sosc 301 felt that they could no longer remain silent on their grievances about the way the course was being taught.

Once the first lecture was over, the student reps told the lecturer about the frustration they felt at the last Cirricullum Committee meeting. They were upset and voiced their disatisfaction at the student rep set-up, especially the difficulties found with getting wide-spread student opinion.

Then the subject of the Sosc 301 course was raised and almost immediately a lecture hall of docile and bored students became effervescent. The criticism of the course was widespread among class members and the criticisms were specific in nearly all cases. Among the criticisms voiced were:-
  • The course was superficial to an extreme
  • the work load was too high for such a course (6 credits)
  • the content beared little relation to the real world or indeed sociology
  • Practical work was often rejected although it was made clear that handing the work in was the only requirement
  • The lectures were unrelated to the practicals.
  • The presentation of much of the teaching was substandard and the content was badly thought out and hazy (to put it mildly).
  • Lecturers were seemingly not aware of what each other was doing
  • No-one, staff or students, was really sure of the aims and purposes of the course and this was reflected in the aimless nature of the course up till the present time.

The students were free-ranging and scathing in their criticisms because all the lecturers had left and the second lecture had been cancelled. The session lasted just under an hour and gave a large number of students who had not spoken at any time during the year, an opportunity to give vent to their feelings about the course.

By the end of the meeting, a list of demands were drawn up to be presented to the staff. These were:-
1.That the curricullum committee attend the next lecture and explain specifically the aims and purposes of the course and it's place in the course structure of the department.
2.That the work-loading of the course be substantially reduced.

The students voted to boycott classes if these demands were not met. Since then the reps have had discussion with the department and apparently a greater understanding of the problems has been achieved by both sides.

Nevertheless, this incident shows the power that students can muster if they are genuinely dissatisfied.

All Sosc 301 students are vigourously urged to attend a crucial meeting to formulate changes in this course. It will take place in LB2 at 1.10pm Monday 12 July


K. Dariku (Salient June 14) springs to the defence of economics. His argument basically is that economics is a positive science and as such only provides policy alternatives and cannot therefore be blamed for the problems arising from such policies that are non-economic. There are certain points in K Darika's letter which need to be looked at more closely.

Firstly he attacks Tony Ward's desert island analogy on the grounds that the problem was one for the physicist not the economist. The economist he says is concerned with the allocation of scarce resources. Accepting this viewpoint let us look at the allocation of resources in the real world, we find a world in which some of the worlds people need cures for indigestion while others starve. One gets the impression that economists are being very successful in their allocation of resources i.e. they are falling down on their specific task.

K. Sarika defends unrealistic models on the grounds that they:
a)make it simpler to learn
b)provide a foundation for later knowledge

The first assumption may be correct although I find it hard to believe that an abstract model is a better tool to learning than a concrete reality. As regards the second point to attempt to base an understanding of a world economy dominated by large firms upon a foundation of a perfectly competitive model is a little like building the new Cotton building on Cardboard piles.

Thirdly, he states that the economist does not decide what should be done but instead places economic facts before decision makers who decide policy. On these grounds the economist is not to blame for bad decisions. However the quality of any decision is affected by the quality of the facts put before the policy makers. An example would be during the depression when many economists continued to advise Governments to balance their budgets thus exacerbating the problem of unemployment. Would K. Sarika absolve the economists of the time of all responsibility for that situation?

Finally, k. Sarika maintains that it is up to the people to choose Communism, Capitalism or Socialism. I would like to hear him expound that theory to the people of Chile, He may find that the directors of ITT have a bit more to say than the average Chilean voter.

In many ways K. Sarika, a student of Economics, proves Tony Ward's point about assuming you have a can opener. He 'assumes' that unrealistic abstraction helps you understand reality, he 'assumes' that the facts put before decision-makers not affect the decisions and he 'assumes' that in a world of inequality the opinion of the people is paramount. It would seem that he has learnt his economic lessons well!

Yours sincerely

Yet another Economics Student.


Student in ENGL 213 (Shakespeare) circulated a petition to ascertain the feelings of students on methods of assessment. The responses to the question "Which form of assessment would you prefer" were:
No. %
a) Present form (i.e. marks taken solely from final exam, with 2 essay & 1 terms test required for terms) 5 7
b) Total Interm assessment (i.e no final exam) 8 11
c) Double chance system (i.e. mark taken from better of (1) essays/terms test (2) final exam 42 58
d) Other 17* 24
Total 72 100%

This survey conclusively shows that 92% of students want some change to assessment and that the majority want a form - the double chance system - that the compromise posed by Prof. McKenzie doesn't really satisfy. This compromise means students are still forced to do well in the final exam and goes against the spirit of the opinion expressed by a majority of students.

The second question asked referred to the terms requirements. The responses were:
Terms should be A abolished 7
Terms should be B modified 23
Terms should be C retained 36
Didn't reply 6
Total 72

Although the results are less conclusive than the first part they still show that almost half want some change to the terms requirements. The change that should be discussed is the abolistion of the terms test (many people mentioned this specifically on their questionnaires).


Dear John, and members of the geography department,

I'd like to agree most firmly with Garth Baker who saw it fit to pass comment about GEOG 101, its organisation and its characters some weeks back in Salient. Matters concerning organisation have been pretty pathetically formulated this year, and there have been that many changes within the course structure that its no longer funny

To take a few examples:
  • the muck-up in getting tutorials underway even though the tuts are held at the same time, and then the additon of two further tutors which necessitated drawing some students out of existing tutorials.
  • then the disorganisation of tutors. I'd like to take the example of my tutorial as it was on one occasion - after waking at 6.30am I proceeded to carry out the usual morning procedure, followed by my journey, by way of four modes of transport to my destination. Come 9.05 the tutor arrived and by the time he settled, 9.10 was upon us. He then returned (marked) essay number one and asked for any comments. 9.20 then arrived and we departed. What a waste of time - and tutorials count towards terms.

My impression before I came to this institution was that much of your knowledge gained was from the tutorials. But whoever gave me that impression obviously never undertook the study of GEOG 101, for I. along with others with whom I have conversed, have found stage one geography tutorials utterly boring. But because of some ill-designed and pathetically unoriginal rules, students must attend 80% of tuts through the year for terms.

The third example of typical GEOG 101 disorganisation is found in the 1976 course outline or rather the two course outlines which have been allocated per student. In outline number one, we have the dates, lecture themes or headings and the lecturers for the human geography section, but only the dates for the physical section. In that outline were included the dates of 25 and 28 June and I and 2 July - all of which fell in the mid year study break.

Obviously somebody never did their homework.

But we were never told about the mistake, even though a second outline was on the loose. In the second outline, the study fortnight was catered for correctly but only dates and the initials of lecturers were given.

So geography students heave in their folders two conflicting course outlines both inadequately completed, while not being aware which of the two is correct, if either are correct at all.

— then we have the question of which essays are compulsory and which ones are not. Both myself and other students are uncertain in regard to this question and also the question of which essays count towards the final mark.

(a)Tutorials should be investigated and/ or revised.
(b)Tutors should reconsider their roles towards the subject and its demands.
(c)Geography term requirements are hopeless.
(d)When are we GEOG students going to get a set of sheets, stapled together, which have a list of correct lecture dates, the lecture themes and the lecturers; each essay question, when the essay is due and whether the essay is compulsory or not and whether it counts to final marks - not a load of half pie drivel
(e)If Ralph 'Wheels' can't take a few darts, the guy probably couldn't represent a zero isobar line around the atmosphere of Venus. C'mon Wheels, they aren't going to kill you, only an indication of a few yawns.

GEOG 101, its organisation and its structure need a good swift kick where it hurts.

Signed Facetious. Ostentatious, The Lot.


Joy, Happiness and Humour

At twelve I arrived with pen and paper to report on, (as duly assigned), the Thursday debate.

The Union Hall was unusually empty and when a man stood up to announce a talk on Consumer Affairs I knew I had the wrong venue.

I was greatly tempted to stay and eat my lunch but Mr Pro said find the debate'.

I dashed off to the Memorial Theatre to find 60 people quite attentively watching the Young Socialists and the Debating orate on the proposition:

"That Groucho Marx made a greater contribution to mankind than Karl Marx".

The debate was full of humour and personal or at least ideological attacks and as a good 40 minutes of lunch time entertainment, went down pretty well.

The Young Socialists represented by one male in American revolutionary hat and another in a Chinese revolutionary hat claimed Groucho used humour, the reaction of his depression period upbringing, to alleviate the suffering of people. They called his humour racist, sexist and deadly cynical. And went as far as comparing the relationship of Groucho & Karl as artist and scientist, or if you like Isaac. Newton and Vera Lynn. Hardly compatible and a good point.

The Professional debaters spoke with considerable skill explaining that the swear words used by the Trotskyite Marxists was the result of the inarticulates trying to express themselves.

A Moonist began singing in the stalls and our chairperson whom the debaters tried not to label with sexist words like "chairman", called the debate a draw. She did however have an unfortunate problem with her foot which was used as a substitute for a bell.

During the debate, one Young Socialist fell off the stage and the general message I got was that Communism killed humour while Socialists didn't want to laugh at the world but to change it.

Red Papers on New Zealand

A compendium of 19 sociological analyses of New Zealand society, primarily through Marxist perspectives. Orders can be placed in Studass Office. Price $1.50

* This divided up into 15 who wanted 50/50 or 60/40 or 40/60 loading for terms work and final exam respectively, and 2 who opted for a solution postulated by Prof. McKenzie This solution involved the final mark being taken from the higher of (1) final exam (2) terms test/essays and final exam.