Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 18 August 3, 1938
Monk v. Economist
Monk v. Economist.
Always one must return to London. London has as yet no personality. It is not one, but 48. It has hardly yet the external symbols of unity. It does not yet quite know if it is nobler to be the University of London or the University of everyone in the Empire who goes to no other University. Its Colleges are very different from, and often very jealous of, one another. University College is, as truly as anything north of Cambridge, a University. So I suppose is King's. The London School of Economics, the most alive College in the land, is unique and indescribable. The women's Colleges, aristocratic islands midway between one century and the next, preserve a rather aloof femininity. There are Colleges with only day students, and Colleges like Birkbeck with only night. There are Colleges with every faculty and Colleges like Wye with only one. And over them all, like a hen brooding over her chicks, the University crest and the University idea.
This diversity of type in the University world is probably well recognised nominally, but it does not seem to be accepted as a basis of thought upon University matters. We still accept the standards of Oxford and Cambridge in the last century and use them to judge the very different types of institution to which we have since given the same name. We recognise that technical necessities require us to develop new courses and live under rather different conditions, but we do it grudgingly as if we were departing from the ideal. We still strive after the decor of the old. We assume that the traditional technique, the lectures and examinations, the monkish conduct, the scholastic habits of thought, are good for the old and for the new, for the artist and the engineer, for Leeds and for Exeter. We assume also that Unions. Presidents, debates and magazines, must be the central features of student life in all these different types of institution. We accept everywhere the old ideal of the student life. Even where the University has put on the clothes of the town, the student will retain the gown of the student. We may find it difficult to foster the gentler arts in the newer and harsher atmosphere, but we organise them and make up societies for their encouragement. We assume that this is good. Flowers have grown in Cambridge, then flowers shall grow in Leeds. We are all Universities, University students have societies. University societies are concerned with talking and writing and acting and running things, then we must run things, and talk, and have societies and be really University-students. It never enters our heads that it may all be a case of "Non sequitur." The word University has gone to our heads like an old wine; and we try to pour the old wine of the traditional University into the new bottles, the very different bottles, that are now called Universities.