Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 12 June 11, 1968
Students Want A Bigger Say
Students Want A Bigger Say
Here are the Students' Association recommendations to Joint Committee on Student Participation in the University:
• Executive Committee of the University Council—there seems to be no reason why one student representative should not have a vote on this most vital subcommittee.
• Ceremonial Committee of Council — it would be highly desirable to have a student representative on the sub-committee which deals with Graduation Ceremonies.
• Purchase of Works of Arts Standing Committee of Council—students as well as staff have to live with what is purchased and a student representative would seem in order.
• Site and Building Development Study Committee of Council—if the change in (i) is accepted, then there would be a voting student representative on this subcommittee.
To alleviate many of the problems mentioned while maintaining a balance on the governing body of the University it is felt that there should be three student representatives on Council.
They will read Mr Muldoon's wild estimate of $10 million ("give or take $5 million or so") wasted on failed university units and shudder. (The failure cost in Australia, with 96,000 students as oposed to 25,000, was recently put at $10 million).
Learned academic arguments and pleas for moderation will make poor headlines in comparison.
The education lobby has apparently been split, and judging from the Vice-Chancellors' Committee and University Grants Committee's inaction it has little stomach for a fight.
The most important point seems to have been overlooked.
Although both sides may largely agree on long-term objectives, if changes are made in the present atmosphere of financial pressure this will be what is perhaps the right solution, but for the wrong reasons. In this way a great disservice would be done to the status of universities by what would be a virtual reproach.
The development of an alternative to university education cannot fail to cause a cut in the budgetary allocations for universities, and by a remarkable coincidence the quinquennial university grants are due to be decided soon after the conference has presented its conclusions, near the end of this year.
The universities are due for a shake-up; and it will not be too long in coming.
The present student representative is appointed by the Executive of the Students' Association under S.6 (2) (h) of the V.U.W. Act 1961. It has been the practice for this person to liaise with the Association, but to always maintain a reasonably independent stand so as to be able to disagree with the Association's policy at Council meetings when he felt this was desirable. In our view this form of representative should be retained.
It is our view that as well the official Students' Association view should be represented at all times on the Council and the logical person to fulfil this post would be the President of the Students' Association or his nominee.
In our view a student should be elected directly to the Council by the students. While the person directly elected might be inexperienced in the administrative details of Council, he would be in a position to provide a direct link between Council and the general student body to whom he would be responsible. It is felt a balance would be retained as the other student representatives would have experience and the Council could expect them to make a valuable contribution.
• Membership of the Student Union Management Committee should be increased by three students.
Each year Executive should appoint three members to Management Committee for two years instead of two as now.
The third member should be elected directly by the student body; or be the person elected to University Council by the student body.
• Otherwise Executive should appoint each year two members for two years (i.e. those it appoints now) and two members for one year.
In this case the third additional member should be elected by the student body.
• The provisions relating to the appointment of the immediate past President to Management Committee should be changed to the immediate past President and if he is not available or already on the Committee that a member of the immediate past President's Executive be appointed in his place.
• Communication between the administration and the student body would be greatly improved by the establishment of an administrative newspaper at this University. This paper should include news from Council, the Professorial Board, the University Administration, and the Student Union Management.
• There is room for three student representatives on the Professorial Board:
One representative should be selected and appointed on the same basis as the present Student Representative on Council so he would be able to maintain a reasonably independent position.
The second representative should be an official Association representative who would present the views of the Association on all matters of educational policy. It is suggested this person should be the President of the Association or his nominee.
The third representative should be directly elected by the student body.
A further separate suggestion would arise if the proposals in connection with Faculty Committees (infra) are adopted. This would be that the five Faculty representatives should be the student representatives on the Professorial Board.
• A course and Staff Evaluation Scheme should be introduced on the ground that it would provide invaluable information on courses and teaching standards.
At some overseas Universities the scheme is organised by the equivalent to the Students' Association with the result that administrative co-operation is often lacking, returns are often inadequate, and comments slanted.
• There should be one student elected to each Faculty Committee.
• A committee consisting of one academic staff member, one administration staff member, and one or two students appointed by the Association's Executive.
This committee should be empowered to ask any staff, member (be they academic or administration) to answer any questions, to obtain such further evidence as it deems necessary, to make known its findings through the "Gazette" or through "Salient", and to make recommendations to the Council, the Registrar, the Professorial Board, Heads of Departments or any other body.
There seems no reason why complaints concerning the Executive of the Students' Association, and complaints by staff concerning students should not also be heard by this body.