Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.
Victoria students very rarely hear much about events on other campuses. So, while at August Council Salient tried to get around as many delegations as possible to fill this gap. Hope you like it - Ed.
Auckland University Students Association (Impressions of August Council)
— David Miliband
Contrary to popular opinion around Vic, NZUSA is not a puppet of the National Officers and VUWSA. It was obvious at August Council of NZUSA that Auckland weilds crucial power through their 9 votes (Vic gets 6) and has much influence on other campuses in more subtle ways.
With such power, it would be reasonable to expect to have a highly developed student democracy. Without indulging in the merits of our own unique SRC system, it seems that Auckland lags far behind in the implementation of a scheme that attempts to act in the interests of their students and gels SRC policy into an actionable direction.
Auckland students give supreme power to their executive which is made up of 16 persons ranging from President down to Capping Controler and Societies Rep. Their SRC is relatively powerless and spends most of it's time debating domestic matters and giving away money. It is made up of the Exec, faculty reps and other odd bods. All are appointed and it is held in closed session - students don't get a vote. The set up means that the exec makes the policy anyway and SRC ends up as a swollen appendage which neither, achieves student representation or has any power.
Changes are underway to give more power to SRC and prune the exec down to 11. This still does not seem radical enough to give students the muscle to dictate policy to the exec.
Despite these failures, AUSA seems capable of carrying off large and sucessful campaigns. 7,000 students went on the bursaries march and a similar number mar marched on Hiroshima day against nuclear warships. Their formula is big money $5,000 spent on these two campaigns alone. Muster mind behind these is Michael Treen - effectively the political leader of the exec and looking forward to presidential control in 1977. His political initiative is very much by de fault - AUSA exec's not having a particularly radical tradition.
Mike Walker, Auckland's president has the problem of administering a huge campus of students and an unwieldy exec. So far he has handled this competently a bit of thrashing about on the cafe problem in the first term - but his image as an administrator is respected by the other campuses. His most notable achievement this year has been to tell the university that he would dissolve the Studass if they loaded too much admin work on the Association. Although acheiving harmony on the Exec and bringing good people in to SRC, politically he is conservative with the exception of racial issues on which he is clear and progressive.
Politically, Mike Treen has the monopoly although his Trotskyist line doesn't always rub up the right way - especially at council. Auckland students seem reasonably tolerant of the Trotskyists compared with the 'strained' relationships at Vic.
One excellent feature of AUSA 'democracy' is the no-confidence provision in exec elections which has meant that the presidential and 4 exec positions were left unfilled at this years elections. Vic is soon (with the ratification of a SGM) to adopt this provision.
For such a big campus to fail to come to grips with it's students problems is a disturbing situation - especially as they spend so much student money in campaigns based on policy made mainly on the exec. Their line at August council seemed inconsistent and confused at times, and at a time where the importance of a cohesive NZUSA is primary, this is not a good situation.
Otago university is made up of seven specialised faculties. Consequently most students at Otago are completing a qualification for a chosen career and have little interest in other areas of knowledge or activity. This explains the low level of political activity at Otago.
A good percentage of the students come from out of town so most of the energy of student politicians is spent on giving the boys from Gore a good time.
The extend of student participation at Otago University is obvious by a glance at their student council. This is an elaborate network of reps from each course, various committees and the exec, totalling 240 people in all.
This body hasn't met for several years. Several attempts have been made to have a meeting - always thwarted by lack of a quorum! Likewise all attempts to disolve this anachronism or reduce the quorum has failed - again for lack of a quorum!
All this means that the responsibility of spending the association fees and making policy is left to the exec.
The exec is headed by the infamous AI Broad - infamous for his wit, arrogance and good humour. Knowing the campus well, he reflects its parachial attitude (often against his personal stance) while at times asserting his own ideas when he is certain he can get away with it.
Most of the 14 strong executive are concerned solely with social, administrative and welfare activities. The notable exceptions are Bruce Meder, Jane Chesney, and Marianne Quinn.
These three work with a limited amount of student support in the areas of feminism (a reaction to the male stronghold on student life at Otago) and the environment, concentrating recently on Comalco and opposing the entry of nuclear warships into New Zealand harbours.
— Leonie Morris
Waikato University Students Association
- Gerard Couper.
As it presently stands the Waikato University Students' Association provides little encouragement for student involvement in their students' association. Perhaps this has been due to the lack of interest shown by the present President, John Fry, who incidentally wasn't present at August Council.
The tone of this comes across to me in an ad for vacant exec position that appears in Nexus. It offhandedly mentions that anybody who cares to apply for the following positions......
Certainty students are classified with the present operation of WUSA for Duncar Stuart was elected next years President on a "bring back WUSA" campaign in what was a remarkably high poll; 750 out of 2200.
The association also occasionally uses a rather strange method of student democracy - referenda. The latest was over the question of the secterian chapel. It seems to methat such methods only sample student opinion rather than encouraging its expression and development.
However, there are progressive changes proposed that centre round plans for an effective SRC. WUSA has student-staff committees for each subject (something Vic could well do with) and further up the heirarchy faculty committees.
Earlier this year representatives from these and "anybody else who wanted to attend" gathered together to form an SRC. Little interest was shown and two of the three meetings failed to gain a quorum.
I think one of the main reasons for this is the inverted basis of the SRC. It works from committees to SRC and therefore stiffles mass participation at the SRC level. However it is still possible that a more democratic form based on Vic's much vaunted SRC may be adopted.
The University of Canterbury Students' Association is undergoing a leadership crisis. The students have passed a motion of no-confidence in the executive and yet the executive sees no reason for it to resign.
Canterbury is the second largest New Zealand university with about 6500 students, and over the last few years has become known as the commercial and administrative centre in the student world.
It is the only university which has full control over its own union facilities, but in gaining this control it has tied itself to the enormous administration that this entails.
Consequently Canterbury executive members have spent much of their time in making sure the facilities are up to standard and that everything is running efficiently, leaving them little time to actually organise amongst students on education, international and national issues. In fact, Canterbury's president is largely a business manager for the association.
Presently the Canterbury executive is negotiating with the university (who actually own the student union building) to extend the Deed of Management, which is the lease for the building. There is some debate as to whether they should let the university reclaim complete financial control of the building or not. There is a strong feeling that the association should get rid of the responsibility so as to get back to its primary function - involving students in political, educational and welfare activities around campus.
The executive crisis arose out of the administrative morass when three executive members had private talks with an association employee about staffing cutbakcs in the union building. The president, Don Leonardo, resigned because he was not informed of the meeting.
At a subsequent Student Representative Council Meeting a motion of no confidence was moved in the executive. At the next executive meeting four members resigned, but a motion that the whole of the executive resign was lost (most thinking that they were not going to resign and watch all the work that they had done for students go down the drain.)
The arrogant attitude shown by the executive may be challenged at a Special General Meeting if there is enough enthusiasm around to do that. Unfortunately, the Students' Association has become so distinct from students, that it may be difficult to find a quorum to do that.
— John Ryall.
Student politics at Massey University is very much of a one-man band. Through lack of any clear political direction, and general student apathy, the president, Dougal Stewart has become something of a benign autocrat. Dougal sees his role as that of "helping" students, providing them with services such as "piss-ups", concerts etc rather than initiating any decisive or progressive political leadership.
MUSA does not experience the adminstrative hassles of Auckland as their union building is effectively under the control of the Board of Hostels. The association's executive meetings mainly concern themselves with housing schemes and minor administrative matters. Consequently, attendance is often sporadic and effective control lies in a few members.
In terms of administration and the provision of student services MUSA's operations could probably be judged as competent However, in terms of providing progressive leadership MUSA must be found sadly wanting. There are no traditional structures for involving students in any political policies.
Though MUSA has AGMs and SGMs there are no SRCs or international or education committees, which means that effectively the decision-making is left in the hands of the Exec. A clear example of how this oeprates can be seen over the Bursaries Issue where the Exec (or was it?) decided there would be a referendum, a petition, but no Bursaries March. The decision was from the top and because there was no effective vehicle for student opinion the decision was not over-ruled.
It is ironical that in Dougal's "Message from the President" in the Massey Handbook he says, "As part of the student body you can accept or change MUSA policies and through your MUSA representatives you can endorse or oppose NZUSA policy".
He displayed an amazing amount of autonomy from his constituent policy e.g. voting to affiliate WONAAC to NZUSA when MUSA has SPUC policy on its books. Massey's influential 6 votes went according to the personal discretion of the MUSA caucus i.e. Dougal rather than according to any policy decided by Massey students. The traditional low level of interest on campus was reflected in the Massey Caucus which consisted of mainly Dougal and the occasional presence of three others.
This tack of any well-thought out political line in August Council is only a sympton of the traditional stance of Massey students. There are reasons for such classic quotes from Dougal as "Yeah, that sounds all right, I'll vote for that."