Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 18. 27th July 1972
Who to Support
Who to Support
As I expected the recent SGM on the motion that "no money be sent to the Vietnam Aid Appeal" turned into an emotional affair.
What a great shame Peter Cullen ended debate on the motion when he did. At a time when people's emotions had been aroused and at a time when a few had made it into an affair whereby if you supported Stubb's motion you were a right-wing fascist. I feel sure with further debate the real issue would have been revealed.
What people should have been discussing was whether or not $2,000 should be given to any charity by our union. The issue of whether charity shoud be restricted to a personal basis is the most relevant here.
For instance - should 790 people have the right to tell 6,000 that the Vietnam Aid Appeal is the most worthy cause to give our money to - should they have the right to tell 6,000 that Corso is the most worthy cause? I think not.
My argument is that charity is something that can only be realistically given (In the form of money to appeals) on a personal basis. There are many reasons why I have come to this conclusion.
Firstly, Alick Shaw and the other 789 people who believe that $2,000 should be sent to the Vietnam Aid Appeal have good grounds for such a decision. I personally agree with them that the Vietnam Aid Appeal is extremely worthy of our money. However there may be, next week, 800 people that believe that $2,000 should be sent to Bangladesh, or Biafra or to some other poverty stricken and disease ridden upturned area of the world. It is unlikely that our union could afford to give away to charity more than about $6,000 a year, at the very most. How then do we decide which charities to support? At least, how do we, as a collective body of 6,000 people, decide which charity we will support. People have differing consciences, differing motives, and differing senses of what is suffering and what is misery.
A person can decide what is more deserving of his charity for himself only.
This principle has wider applications. For instance what if the N.Z. taxpayer found that the N.Z. govt was donating large amounts of the taxpayer's money to charity organisations which had been set up to improve the position of the negro in America! A hypothetical illustration I admit but this is virtually the same principle as donating $2,000 of union funds to the Vietnam Aid Appeal. [Quite different I would think.— Ed.]
Again the point I am trying to make is that a large organisation is treading on dangerous ground when it starts using a compulsory fee for donations to charities because it is too difficult for that large organisation, especially in the case of VUWSA whose funds are already very limited, to draw the line and say one charity will receive support at the expense of numerous other worthwhile charities. It is too difficult for such a large body to choose what is deserving. As I have already stated, suffering, starvation, pain and agony are no different whether you're in Africa or Vietnam. We have the same responsibility to any human being on this earth who is not as fortunate as we are. Therefore why send $2,000 to Vietnam? [Because we sent our military there to help destroy them]
Many of us think the Vietnam Aid Appeal is as worthwhile as any cause. We have that right but we do not have the right to force that opinion on others. Other people have a right to want to give their money to Corso or to a cause such as the foundation for the blind. This is why nearly every charity that has ever been organised has appealed on a house to house or street corner basis! Only a few would quibble over 30cents -But many will quibble over which charity to receive the benefit of our financial support.
Charity begins in your own backyard, someone said — How bout a good long look at the Varsity Creche — Housing in the vicinity of Varsity, a good long look at the many students who have so much difficulty devoting enough time to their studies because they have to do a lot of part-time work in order to survive.
If anybody who supported the motion to send $2,000 to Vietnam would care to organise a Vietnam Aid Appeal on campus i.e. advertising, appeal box in the foyer etc. I personally will start if off with $1.00 because I personally think those suffering in Vietnam need help, [how sweet] many will disagree with me and I would personally like to argue with them over it but if they don't want to give $1.00 or even 30cents then that's their right.
G.A. Keene [Abridged and annotated — Ed.]