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Salient. Newspaper of the Victoria University Students' Association. Vol 42 No. 8. April 23 1979

President Replies

President Replies

Dear Sir,

I am writing to your esteemed publication concerning the report of the AGM in Salient No 7April 9 1979.

I think it necessary because of the rather obvious bias of the reporter, who clearly is more concerned with protecting the undemocratic and often fascist niche which the Mao, Trot and so called 'progressive' minority groups have held on this campus to the detriment of most students for over ten years.

The article completely misrepresents my reasons for putting various motions, but that is not entirely unexpected; cynicism about the reporting in Salient has become the norm. Firstly I have no desire to vanquish my critics - criticism is a healthy thing. The question is, and always will be; is it warranted and justified? It is true that it is my job to protect the rights of students. It is also my clear duty to initiate necessary measures to protect these rights which are at present so clearly infringed upon; significantly by the very people who catawaul about 'Democratic Rights'.

Yet these, mostly extreme left wing politicos often of Mao or Trot' leanings, are the very popple who have effectively stifled and suppressed the expression of True student opinion on the campus over the years. They are like the Bourbons; they neither see their mistakes nor do they act to correct them. Indeed they do not care, so long as they as a minority control VUWSA not in the interests of the students, but in their own selfish long term so called 'progressive' political interests. My own views are of little concern; I was elected to represent the true student views; not those of a selfish selected minority who have attempted to control VUWSA for years.

Having said this I would like to give my reasons for moving and seconding motions to: Have the Salient Editor elected at SRC. For VUWSA to have no policy on abortion. For VUWSA to have no 'International' policy except that relating specifically to overseas students in New Zealand.

Concerning no policy on abortion. Leaving aside my own personal views on the matter, I believe it is ridiculous to claim that 6000 students here all want abortion on demand, which is what VUWSA policy is at the moment and (N.B.) I Admit I Am Bound to Follow It. I am, however, entitled to seek to change it [unclear: democracally] as provided for by the Constitution. Students are just as divided on this issue of profound Moral Social and Religious significance as the rest of the page 16 community.

I believe it is wrong to shove or force the views of either extreme lobby down students' throats which is what is happening at the moment. Apart from anything else, it is wrong that students who pay $43 and who do disagree with the current policy on what I would stress is a very major issue should have to subsidize the cause of one extreme 'lobby' which may be contrary to their personal beliefs in This case. Apart from anything else, a lot of Association money has been wasted by the 'politicos' as usual and the issue has been generally prostituted just like they prostitute almost any issue that comes up.

Concerning the motion to have the Salient Editor elected at SRC: I moved this motion not to curtail tile free independent line of Salient which I am quite willing to see protected in the Constitution, as I made clear when the accounts of Publications Board were centralized, but to increase the access of Salient to the students. At the moment the Salient editor is elected by the small select group of people on the Publications Board who mainly consist of people who either work on Salient or who have worked on Salient in tine past.

It is well known that most of these people belong to a select little clique with a certain political 'hue' (usually Maoist in orientation) who have dominated Salient which we all pay for each year in our Students Association fee ($3.50) per student. I merely propose to go someway to breaking this domination by having the editor elected at SRC. That person's technical competence can be ade— quietly questioned there as well as his / her political affiliations which seem to have led to a certain plunge in Salient's credibility in past years. Fortunately this year's editor seems to have taken care to some extent not to let his own politics to dominate to a ridiculous extent, as was clearly the case last year, but this will not always be the case. If appointment at SRC is seen to make the position of editor as "too political" I would humbly submit that at present it is a blatantly political appointment anyway. After all if the editor was elected at SRC instead of the usual clique, a few more people might be encouraged to put themselves forward for the position!

Concerning the motion to abolish international policy; this motion was seconded by me because this feature of VUWSA above all else has alienated students away from thier own Students' Association.

A lot of the policy is completely unrepresentative of student opinion at Vic anyway and is in man cases of 'Mao or Trot' origin — not exactly majority viewpoints on the campus.

This was clearly demonstrated at an SRC which discussed a rubbishy motion on Kampuchea some weeks ago. VUWSA policy should focus on student welfare, your welfare, not on what is going on in Indo—China. After all we are in the middle of an economic crisis — shouldn't we concentrate on this?

I would like to conclude by saying that I do want to curtail free speech on campus. These motions do not prevent forums or discussion on any topic whatsoever, they merely preclude a policy stand on these issues.

The issue is not whether these motions would restrict free speech; the issue is whether a small minority of students with extreme political views (cither left or right) should be allowed to dominate the Students' Association at the expense of 6000 others. Nevertheless, I Shall Continue to Represent VUWSA Policy as it Stands. Policy is to be taken seriously that is why I bothered to move the motions and to second them in the first place.


Andrew Tees

(Wellington's Cornerstone of Benevolent Fascism)

P.S. I am prepared to discuss the function of a students's association anytime, with anybody.

Free speech will not be stifled — forums etc. can be arranged anytime to discuss any issue.

(Mr Tees claims that the article Salient published on the AGM "completely misrepresents (his) reasons for putting various motions". As he put forward no arguments for two of the motions (on the Salient Editor and International policy), there were no reasons to "misrepresent". On the Abortion motion, he only spoke briefly, again not putting forward a particularly coherent set of reasons. What the report did attempt to do was to consider very briefly some of the more major consequences of these motions. Our reporters are not psychic - if Mr Tees wants his arguments represented in reports of meetings, he must put them to the meeting.

I do not wish to take issue with other particular points that Mr Tees raises in the letter, an editorial comment seems to me an inappropriate place to do so. I will however take issue with his comments about 'politicos" wasting money and prostituting issues various that arise. It is very easy to sit down at a typewriter and conduct a campaign based on smear and innuendo, to rely on people's personal prejudices, rather than persuasive argument. There is no place in Salient for the type of unsubstantiated allegations that Mr Tees makes here. Salient has a policy of free access to the letters column, with a freedom from the sub-editor's pen, save for comments which contravene the law, and this is why Mr Tees' comments have been printed. I do record however my disgust at having Salient "Used" as a vehicle for this type of remark, they would certainly not be acceptable, in any article printed in Salient, -ed)