A Bright Kind of MissionaryBy DUANE W. BOWLER, Editor, The Gazette
May 20, 1973The Billings Gazette
A young man from Miles City who once attended Eastern Montana College may be the best thing that has happened to the University of Montana in quite some time.
You’d like to meet Garry South, the new president of the Associated Students of the University of Montana. And he’d like to meet you, too.
South is a clean-shaven longhair by crewcut standards, dresses like a young stockbroker, at least when persuading his elders, and talks straight about the students at the University of Montana.
“I THINK IT IS UNFAIR to say students are only here four years and have no stake in the University and the state of Montana,” says South. “It’s not fair to take four years out of my life and say whatever I do is irrelevant and necessarily bad.”
Those were the remarks South had for the University of Montana Council of 50 at its spring meeting a week ago.
He was telling why the Associated Students had a full-time lobby and plenty of volunteers during the opening session of the 43rd Montana Legislature.
“We got into the real world,” South says. And with success. The combined Montana University System student efforts got a voting student on the Board of Regents and 24-hour open dorms, the latter as part of the students’ right to privacy.
WHEN SOUTH TELLS YOU that almost every student on the campus is legally classified as an adult the light gets brighter at the end of the tunnel vision.
His idea is the best way to avert problems is to get students involved in the process, to face the problems head-on.
One of them is what to do about the Montana Kaimin, the student newspaper.
“I do not justify everything the Kaimin has printed,” says South, “but there is nothing (President Robert) Pantzer and I can do about it.
“It is a student newspaper, paid for by the students and the way copies disappear each day they read it.”
“I do not justify. If I had been editor there are many things I would not have done. But it cannot be a public relations tool for the University. If it tries to, it is not then a student newspaper.
“A newspaper’s duty is not to be well liked but well read.”
SOUTH ADMITS that the Kaimin, with its sometimes offensive language and opinions, does have an effect on the state and there seems to be an attitude against it.
For its critics, in and out of the newspaper fraternity, South advises that the present editor is trying to escape the “David Rorvik” syndrome. (Rorvik was Kaimin editor in the middle 1960’s who is now a highly successful free-lance writer.)
SOUTH HAS NO EXCUSES to make for the Kaimin. He asks only that it be accepted for what it is-a newspaper published for and by the students with their own money and reflecting their attitudes.
Were it closed by some cause or other, he feels the underground press would take over with up to five publications springing up which would make the Kaimin seem like nursery fare.
AS WE SAID, South doesn’t mince his words. Nor does he defiantly antagonize his elders. He tells them, well, like it is.
Student government is no longer a glorified student council. His office administers $348,000 of student activity fees. He emphasizes that this is student, not state taxpayers’, money.
Therefore students have a right to say how it is spent. If they want rock concerts instead of jocks, that’s what they’ll have.
His current budget allocates $95,000 to the athletic department. Athletic Director Jack Swarthout got $105,000 this year and wants $161,000.
SOUTH JUSTIFIES his proposed budget as allocating money where it will do the most good, that athletics will get twice what any other activity gets. He feels athletics have much too long received a disproportionate share and the arts are not enough. He doesn’t want to kill varsity athletics.
He just doesn’t want to give them $161,000. South draws up the president’s budget, there are hearings, it goes before Central Board and the final decisions are made. It sounds just like city council, which it is for the students.
His problem, as well as Central Board’s, is how to satisfy the 43 student activity groups with their $183,000 in budget requests with only $348,000 available at the rate of $15 per quarter from each student.
“We do specify that none of our student funds can go for athletic scholarships,” says South. “We don’t give scholarships in other activities so why do it for athletics?”
AS SOUTH SAYS, he plans to meet problems head-on as student president.
His constituency consists primarily of students from the small towns of Montana attending a Montana tax-supported institution.
He thinks they both should understand each other better and has charted a course to bring it about. South isn’t a University administration spokesman. But the way this young history major from Miles City goes about his mission is all for the good of the institution and his home state.