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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 2. March 2nd, 1950

A Double-Headed Penny?

page 2

A Double-Headed Penny?

We Ask no One's Forgiveness for raising questions of student politics at this stage of the year: it is a matter of principle which cannot be passed over, and it will serve to underline the fact that Salient is not tied to any official executive line.

To refresh your memories, at last year's election for the position of honorary secretary to the Association, the two candidates got exactly the same number of votes: they were each supported by 50 per cent of the voters in the Association. As the constitution asks, the returning officer tossed a coin. He could have cast a vote himself, but this would have been less preferable. Now the executive, as one of its first actions, and again in accordance with the constitution, had to co-opt an assistant secretary. We, at the time, thought that it had no choice in the matter: there was a clear moral obligation to co-opt the other candidate (who had been ousted only on the toss of a coin).

We wish to make it quite clear that we are not indulging in any personalities. This is a matter of principle, and the executive should have seen it. They didn't. It is quite irrelevant to consider the merits or demerits of the person, who was appointed: in fact, he was, and is, very capable indeed. But regardless of this, the "defeated" candidate had been already an elected member of the executive: he had been prominent in many student affairs; while the person appointed (again quite apart from personalities) had been defeated in an election for the executive. It can do no harm now to recall that the executive missed a motion of no-confidence on the issue at an S.G.M. purely by accident.

As it happened, the chance to remedy it arose when, at the beginning of this year, the secretary of the Association shifted to another town and resigned his position. Very properly, the executive decided that (with the annual report to prepare) his place should be filled by the now experienced assistant secretary—leaving that position again open.

And what happened? Again, the executive passed over the person who had clearly been given the support of half of the Association, who had already had experience as an elected member of the executive, and appointed someone else. To make the insult more studied the person appointed (and again we stress that we are not indulging in personalities) has been very little known in student affairs; is, in fact, almost an unknown.

We have no quarrel personally with the executive. But they have acted foolishly twice—repeated what should have been obviously a grave breach of principle. Some of them are probably as incensed about the thing as we are; but the majority must clearly stand judgment for it. The thing is done now, but certainly it must never be allowed to happen again, and an amendment to the constitution to prevent this juggling with personalities will have to be brought up at the next general meeting.

Twice, a majority of the executive has pointedly sacrificed principle for some question of personality—or some less excusable consideration. It raises a grave doubt whether a majority of the executive are fit to continue in office.