Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.
"My position as senior chairperson of the executive committee of the special SRC Education sub-committee examining the extent of Student Association democracy entitles me to decide this delegation's international policy," I heard an anonymous student "heavie" slur out as he relaxed over a few beers at the end of the second day of NZUSA's August Council.
NZUSA is the national union of New Zealand university students. Its constituent members are the seven university students' associations at Auckland Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury and Otago Universities and Lincoln College. Twice yearly during the May and August vacations delegates from NZUSA's seven constituent students' associations meet to decide NZUSA's policy and to review the work of its full-time officers.
August Council, held this year at Victoria, was not characterised by any assassinations (other than the usual ones of character), bloodletting, or commission-room violence - tales which always seem to filter back from over-dramatic delegates attending their first council.
August Council was characterised by poor chairing of plenaries, a number of administrative hold-ups, mediocre food (always the number one complaint), and most importantly, an appalling lack of any real campus democracy.
Most of the complaints about council meetings always seem to hinge around bureaucratic things such as "wasn't the agenda badly arranged" or personality attacks such as "Tripe is a bastard for rubbishing that motion forbidding delegates to wear redsocks to commission meetings". These are always carefully noted by successive NZUSA presidents and remembered for next council meeting.
And this year NZUSA president John Blincoe had his share of notebook jottings about the inordinate amount of time spent on repeating questions to candidates for national officer's positions, the ridiculous procedure taken to conduct the priorities plenary (at which national priorities for 1977 are set) and the Finance and Administration Commission meetings which finished at four o'clock in the morning.