Ours was the year that was: 1959-60
The musty-sweet scent of our memories

Ours was the year that was: 1960-61

Terry Chapman

We lived on site at ASOPA for most of the first year and there were some fascinating experiences. A dispute arose when the students asked for another washing machine but were told there wasn’t enough room in the laundry. The argument was won for the students by Dick Rentoule when he took to the old brick and concrete wood fired copper with a sledge hammer.

There are dramatic memories of the famous police raid on the living quarters. A guitar singing session in Rover Leung's room was rudely interrupted by a gun-waving policeman looking for “the man with the gun”. He wasn't impressed when Paul Brigg said, “That's you, you fool, have a beer. It turned out that a CEO, being harassed by some intoxicated kiaps, had locked himself in a room with a rifle, which he used to further antagonise them by firing through the window. Apparently there were eight carloads of police involved.

Student A was summoned to Mr Rowley’s office to help him and woodwork lecturer Keith ‘Handy Andy’ Foster understand why Student A’s cane joint, awarded a distinction, was missing from the box of joints. In particular he was asked to confirm conviction that the joint with Student B’s name on it was actually Student A’s assessment task rebadged with Student B’s name. Student A did not agree and the threat to expel Student B evaporated when Student A expressed surprise that there were only 25 cane joints in the box from the group of 50 plus students.

We should have felt honoured to have James McAuley as our lecturer but unfortunately we did not get to know him well enough nor had we heard enough about his exploits to benefit from association with him. He described himself as a “man of the left” but we later learned he was fiercely anti-communist, prominent as an anti-communist during the cold war and a co-founder and chief editor of Quadrant magazine. He professed a great love for PNG, which he described as his “second spirit” home and it’s regrettable we gave him a tough time and didn't get to know him.

Brian Ross tried his psychology on us in a memorable way. He administered a test involving a very significant number of short answer questions with the results to contribute a major part of our yearly assessment. He failed to return the papers and was harassed by students with allegations that he had not marked them. He then awarded marks to only ten of those questions and announced the results. In response to the protests, he explained that the selection of the ten questions was so clever that the results reflected accurately the relative merits of the students. After being challenged, he announced he would put this to the test by conducting a brief survey. He named the seven students who had achieved the best results and asked them whether they agreed with the accuracy of his assertions. The seven all agreed that he was very clever and that the top marks were thoroughly deserved. If his aim was to teach us to be sceptical about the results of surveys, he was very successful.


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