Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 7. 1961.
What Sort of Election Is This?
What Sort of Election Is This?
Have you realized yet that the President of the Students' Association has been elected simply by declaration because there were no other nominations? This was made plain by a Very small notice on the Executive notice-board in the main vestibule.
When were nominations called for, and when was it announced what day they would close? I do not know. I am told that these were announced on an equally small notice on this board.
There are two ways of concealing an important fact: (1) to be quite silent about it; (2) to hide it under such a mass of trivial and tedious detail that nobody could find it or realise its significance unless he knew exactly what to look for, and when and where to look.
In other words, only those already connected with Executive are likely to discover important notices on this Notice-Board. This would not have mattered if this is, not the only place where the general student public is given a chance to see these things. They could have been published in "Salient" but they were not.
This is not to question for a moment the integrity and ability of Mr Armour Mitchell, the new President. In the circumstances, it is practically certain that he would have won a contested election: because of course we prefer as President somebody with previous experience on the Executive of this University! and no previous Executive member was able to stand (the two obvious candidates being Mr O'Brien and Mr Brooker).
But suppose that we had at Vic. this year the Vice-President or President of some other University or of some training college. He (or she) should have been given a chance to stand, and, technically, so should every financial member of the Vic. Students' Association. And this means far better publicity.
Who to Blame?
Here is a blatant case of very serious neglect on the part of the Election Organisers. It is not the fault of "Student Apathy." nor in any way of Mr Mitchell (we give him our good wishes for his coming term of office) but of these organisers, who should have made special efforts to decently notify "outsiders." Democratic principles have been abused; the slight odour that has hung about the Presidency since the "unfortunate" election business last year. (When the only available publicity was more favourable to Mr Hercus than to the other two candidates, and thus he was given an unfair advantage—once again, presumably not at all his fault) has not dissipated; Mr Mitchell has not had the 'vote of confidence from the student body that he deserves.
The organisers had a duty to give every student a reasonable chance of knowing about nomination dates. They failed. Don't let this happen again with the election for the rest of the Executive. Publicity
In the last few years, it has been proved repeatedly that small typed notices on the Main Vestibule notice board are totally ineffective in communicating with the student body. Nomination dates closed before more than a fraction of students even realised that elections were imminent, and a disgraceful number of candidates were returned unopposed. Several times, less than four nominations were received for the Women's Committee, and extra members had to be elected, in very hard-fought contests, at the A.G.M. Some of the unsuccessful contestants at the A.G.M 's were undeniably far higher qualified than some of the girls elected unopposed. This is not the Fault of Student Apathy. It is due to inadequate election publicity before the closing of nominations. Afterwards is too late.
There is a dangerous tendency for Executive to become cliquy, with members renominating each other year after tired year. To do a fair share of the work involves a great deal of time and enthusiasm; and enthusiasm naturally wanes when one is doing something for the third time. Executive is getting too conservative and too concerned with its own red tape. It needs a constant stream of new blood, and the best available. So there must be a constant effort to interest new people.
If Executive will provide "Salient" with facts, we are only to eager to print them. But it doesn't. We have had no help whatever from its so-called public relations officer. Firstly, the nomination details for the Executive election must be published as soon as they are available. Secondly, profiles of candidates, giving details of their qualifications and achievements, with photos, must be provided by nominators and seconders, as soon as reasonably possible. Thirdly, every encouragement should be given to all students to stand for Executive, in adequate time to let them make up their minds. Fourthly, as a mere suggestion a Student Council could be set up, similar to that at Otago University, as an intermediary between Executive and the student body to handle some of the work so that more people could actively be interested in the running of the Association, and the personal load be lighter. Don't Let our Elections Become a Shabby Pretence.