Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 8 June 27, 1945
General Meeting Slates Exec for Unfortunate Annual Report
General Meeting Slates Exec for Unfortunate Annual Report
On Wednesday last, June 20, after two hours of strenuous debate and fervid polemics, the annual report presented by the retiring Executive was adopted by 44 votes to 36.
Chief among the charges brought against it were those of misrepresentation, slander, electioneering, and non-ratification by Exec. The meeting, although stormy, was well controlled by Mr. Barr.
Let Battle Commence
"I wish to formally move from the chair," said Mr. Barr, "that the Annual Report and Balance Sheet be taken as read; are there any objections?" Messrs. Winchester, Hartley and Dowrick, simultaneously and in varying accents of indignation, "I object!" "Sir," asked Mr. Winchester, "has this report been ratified by a full Executive in committee?" Mr. Barr suggested, with some acerbity, that the arena be first cleared by taking the report as read, before contestants drew their bludgeons. After some murmuring this was done. The Chairman then moved formally that the report be adopted, and called for discussion.
Mr. Hartley rose. "Sir, I submit that this report is a document in extremely bad taste, containing both attacks and emendations of persons standing for office in the recent elections, and ambiguous statements concerning other individuals in the College. As such, it is unworthy of adoption." Upholding his assertion, Mr. Hartley objected to the wording of many clauses. In particular he asked why Mrs. Fowler had been dealt three gratuitous insults, concerning Rostrum, the Victory Loan campaign and the committee on text: books; why a slur had been cast on Mr. Cohen, a candidate, as Publicity Officer, and why, "at the risk of making invidious distinctions," Executive members, standing for re-election against other candidates, should have been singled out for praise in the face of equally commendable work on the part of other students. "Sir, this is a gross electioneering document and thoroughly unworthy of our Association: it must be rejected!"
The Chairman asked the Secretary to reply to those allegations—"I demand the right of reply!" said Mr. Hartley. "We shall be here to one a.m." warned the Chairman. ". . . and ready to stay till next year, to see justice!" avowed Mr. Winchester. Amid assertions and counter assertions, right of reply was vouchsafed.
Mr. McDowall stood, diffidently. "I shall pass over many of Mr. Hartley's remarks as unworthy of reply." (Groans, boos, cheers and interjections). "Concerning Rostrum, the statement concerning the 'social content' demanded by the Editor of contributions is correct. We wrote to Mr. Cohen asking that a report on proposed publicity be submitted—the letter was not even acknowledged." Mr. McDowall answered other minor points to the moderate satisfaction of the meeting. "Much time and care was spent in compiling this report (A voice: "Obviously!") and it was completed two weeks before nominations closed."
Mr. Cohen: "At the time of my appointment as Publicity Officer, I was in the Army; moreover, I was neither consulted about nor notified of the appointment. The letter referred to by Mr. McDowall never reached me—I might ask where he addressed it"
Mr. Dowrick, claiming to be the oldest member of the Association present (a claim disputed by Mr. Sansum), held the report to be thoroughly indecorous. "It reeks of adolescence. In my day, when there were men at this college, men such as Jack Aimers, Bonk Scotney, Nesblt Sellars, and others, such a document would never have been passed."
Mr. Taylor opposed the adoption of the report on two grounds. First: it should be purely factual; thanks should be given, but not undue adulation. Second: "Although I feel that the damage has been done, no precedent for such a report must be allowed; it must be returned for amendment."
Mr. Winchester: "I object to the report on grounds of taste and phrasing and as it contains several untruths it is impossible to believe that it has been passed by the Exec as a whole. Had it been, I am certain that Mr. Campbell would have, out of embarrassment, erased those portions eulogising him, and that the slanders directed at Mrs. Fowler and others would have been exposed."
Mr. Winchester also asked why the Liberty Loan campaign, started two days before the election, was not mentioned, while the hanging of pictures in the Men's Common Room, also two days before the election, was.
Mr. Fowler asked the meeting to note the extreme care which had been taken in the compilation of reports in Salient on the various nominees. "Has this care to avoid misrepresentation been taken in the Annual Report?" he asked. Salient is classed as material likely to influence votes, and as such was constitutionally barred from distribution on polling days. Oh these days the Exec. report, far more likely to influence votes, was available in the Exec. Room. Mr. Barr:—"A decision that this would be permissible was made by the full Exec."
Mr. Daniell made the point that the Report, according to constitution, must be available for seven days prior to the annual meeting.
"Social Content" Denied
"On being appointed Rostrum Editor," said Mrs. Fowler, "I collected a committee of four; Mr. Munz, as a representative of CUC; Mr. Olson for TC; Mrs. Morris, as Press Bureau Correspondent; and Mr. Fowler, Editor of Salient. All contributions were considered by this committee; the majority were thought unworthy of print; the total number were insufficient to fill the publication, and it was therefore necessary to abandon publication for 1944. I strongly resent the implication that exacting or unusual standards were demanded." As regards the text-book situation: before leaving Wellington Mrs. Fowler had been advised by Exec. to place all material and information in the hands of Mr. Boyd, for a publications subcommittee of the Council. This was done, and any obligations could be considered discharged.
Mr. Campbell rose to regret the many references to himself in the report and trusted that it was not thought his doing. (Cries of: "O.K. Stan, we realise that," etc.) Most of the trouble had arisen through the failure of individuals to report back to Exec. When Miss Crompton left Wellington and unfortunately became Mrs. Fowler (Mr. Fowler: "I object" General uproar), she neglected to report re the situation of Rostrum, etc: this had caused the misunderstanding.
Mrs. Fowler: "That is not the case. I reported in full on Rostrum to NZUSA, who were satisfied. The Exec. knew of the transfer of text-book material to Mr. Boyd."
Further speakers took exception to the Report on various grounds. Comments from the floor gained in virility. With difficulty the Chair restored order and proceeded to sum up. "This Report was not produced solely by Mr. McDowall: it was approved by myself and seen by several Exec. members, although not formally ratified. It is a poor thing if the Exec. cannot criticise or commend members for their work throughout the year; mainly fair criticism has been levelled." (Mingled cries of rage!) "The Exec. itself is subject to more criticism than any other student organisation."
The motion that the Annual Report be adopted was then put. After two hours of strenuous debate it was carried by 44 votes to 36.
A Corrective . . .
A motion was put forward by Mr. Hartley; "That future Executives be recommended to refrain from any ambiguous statements or references likely to give offence, in their annual report, and to ensure that it is ratified at an Executive Committee meeting." After amendment restricting this to "ratification" together with some fierce debate, during which Mr. Daniell referred to Salient's "dirty yellow journalism," the motion was passed.
Minor points in the balance sheet were discussed and thanks forwarded to the Treasurer.
It was moved by Mr. Campbell that members of the Miniature Rifle Club be eligible for blues. Upon request he defined the required standard—steady scoring in the 93 class. Futile discussion ensued. ("What does this club contribute to Imperial defence?"—Mr. Dowrick.) Mr. Campbell pointed out that small-bore rifles were just an deadly for bulls. (Crude interjection.) The meeting concurred. It further agreed that blues be awarded for table tennis. (". . . . this ping-pong . . ."—Mr. Abraham. Tumult.)
The meeting agreed to amendments to the constitution, having the following effects:—First, to establish a Research and Historical Committee to ensure preservation of College records and to maintain continuity in College life during and after major disturbances, such as the present war; second, to extend the scope of Mr. Creed's 1944 amendment concerning the granting of blues to players for outside teams. The situation now:—no student may represent the College in any sport, in drama or debating, if, throughout the year, he has played for an outside club when the College club has desired his services. TC clubs are not considered outside the College; there is right of appeal to the Executive.
"I now wish to put a motion which will appear to many radical, even revolutionary" (cries of "No! No! Shame!"), Bald Mr. O'Brien, recommending that the incoming Executive take up the possibility of a site for the entire University in the Adelaide Road rebuilding area. "We must give thought for the students of twenty years hence before we fix the position of our new building." Mr. Winchester: "Have you provided for a cemetery nearby?" Mr. O'Brien: "The Basin Reserve will probably suffice." (Voice: "Scoreboard, too!") Mr. Barr pointed out that the Council had, in all probability, given considerable thought to the question of available sites. After further discussion the motion was passed on the understanding that enquiries would be made as to the Council's researches into the matter.
Fatigue on the part of the customers prohibiting any further business, Mr. Barr announced the results of the elections. The evening closed with a upper for past and future Executives.