Students and Politics, Student politics
Students have generally shown themselves to be relatively conservative or moderate in their views, though from the 1960s onwards more outspoken students of radical and leftwing persuasions dominated student political activity on campus. World War One
With the onset of World War One AUC students had no hesitation in declaring themselves ready to accept any wartime responsibilities to come their way. Setting up an officers training corp on campus was discussed, and there was support for compulsory military training. Great Depression
Initial student reaction to the depression reflected their predominantly middle-class origins and political conservatives. Little understanding of working class or labour relations had emerged in student revues and publications before the 1930s. Political activity by students was officially frowned upon. Indeed, a 1925 AUCSA executive motion resolved ‘that this association view with distinct disfavour any organised demonstrations on the part of students, at any political meeting.’ One university group which discussed wider issues and alternative ideas was the Aesthetics Club, as did the Student Christian Movement. Appeals for special’ constables to combat unemployed workers rioting in Queen Street in 1932 met with a good response from students. However, some found their duties distasteful, and this emerge in the student press. Craccum editor John Mulgan commented in an editorial that his sympathies now lay with the workers. Other contributors suggested students had held themselves aloof from world affairs for too long. At the 1934 AUCSA AGM, a resolution empowering the executive to speak for students on ‘matters pertaining to the general welfare of the community’ was passed overwhelmingly. World War 2
Attitudes towards the Second World War less enthusiastic than towards World War 1, however nevertheless highly supportive of the war rather than for pacifism. AUCSA took up the cause of those attempting to continue their education while in the services overseas and at home. 1950s
The formation of a Labour club as well as NZUSA congresses, stimulated college life by provoking the conservative student mainstream into political debate. Overt the late 1940s and 1950s a pattern emerged of special meetings being called to discuss radical resolutions, and ending up passing conservative ones. For example, a 1948 SGM called to oppose peacetime conscription ended up voting in favour of it. The distribution of leaflets and a speaker expressing solidarity with workers drew a strong negative reaction from the Association. A SGM supported the government in its imposition of emergency regulations during the 1951 waterfront workers’ strike. Membership of the Association remained compulsory, but active involvement could not. Student voting in elections and attendance at meetings was a very minority activity. A voting turnout of 36% in 1948 was outstanding. Accusations of student apathy, as well as executive cliques was constant during elections. A changed student population and changing student mentality
A significant change from the 1960s onwards was that students became overwhelmingly full-time. They were becoming a socially discrete group. Students who no longer had to work during the year had more time at the university to discuss changing ideas. Before 1960s many would-be demonstrators would have been at work, and in general, not fully committed to student affairs. Like other educated, middle-class youth in the Western world they were taken with a leftwing libertarianism which centred on individual civil, political and sexual freedoms, and challenged traditional concepts of morality and authority. Over the late 1960s and early 1970s Craccum ran sympathetic articles on homosexuality, and revealed that some unmarried women were being prescribed contraceptives. Some students lived in mixed-sex flatting. Clothing became more casual, and alternative ideas about suitable...
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