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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 4, No. 5. June 6, 1941

The Hemlock

The Hemlock

So far as the facts are concerned there are few to be reported of the D. Saker case which are not already known. That they are not known clearly, is definite.

At the end of last term a meeting of students was called in order to discuss the question as to whether the V.U.C. Executive was incompetent because it allowed a member of the staff of "Salient" to write an offensive article. It had further permitted the writer of the same article to later officiate as editor of the College annual magazine, which is "Spike." In this capacity as editor D. Saker again was the writer of a brief paragraph which did not conform with the wishes of the Executive. This writing, [unclear: after] the magazine had been received prepatory to publishing, was, without reference to the editor, entirely blacked-out and did not appear.

The first fact is that, had the executive been competent to handle the issue which [unclear: confrom] every executive, this meeting would not have had to be called. Functioning competently, it should have been able to deal with the problem of D. Saker long before things became complicated. The meeting was a confession of weakness. D. Saker should not have been, after his first offence, entrusted with the editorship of "Spike." As he was, he should then have been notified formally by the executive that all proofs were subject to censorship before final publication. The executive as an active body neglected its duty. In this case it is impossible to see either season or justice in D. Saker's being convicted by a formal body of students when he had gone against no formal declaration.

The person who gave the speech in which his personal feelings were most highly involved, was Gurth Higgin, and the person who gave a speech in which he was able to deliver himself and see the issue relating to the dynamic personality of the accused, was John McCreary. But the judges were so unacquainted with methods such as he employed that they remained as blind and adamant as ever.

D. Saker defended himself and took the non-attached, Socratic stand, but his childish wilfulness in ignoring advice imparted him from time to time and place to place, and kindly threats of censorship, during his editing of "Spike," had so incensed' his judges, that he was, finally, forced to take the hemlock, which he did however without much outward perturbation, vowing himself, like Socrates, to be a very old man—at least he said he'd nearly done his dash up here. Let it be pointed out again that if the executive had functioned competently the dope would never have had to be handed to Dorian, and he would still be amongst us, a wiser child. . . .

After all, the net on the Grafton Bridge is there to save suicides from themselves. Society takes that on itself. The executive of V.U.C. serves somewhat the same purpose, only this time someone has fallen through. A new net is required.