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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 3. March 20, 1952

[Introduction]

"And, when each man had milked her dry
The old cow died of roaring, O
At three o'clock, at four o'clock
At five o'clock in the morning, O."

Some time about January 25, 1952, a strange but much rumoured quadruped of considerable intellectual capacity and a bovine exterior made its appearance at Curious Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound for the fourth N.Z.U.S.A. Congress. Never did a taboo raise such a hullaballoo as during the next ten days, when this animal was baited, teased, flogged and cursed, not to say drained of its lactic fluid, only to exhibit such a tenacity for life that, in the words of the minstrel Jacobus Baxterius (blaed wide sprang)

"... as they were lamenting all
The cow got up and made reply:
You're a set of bloody suckers, mates
A Sacred Cow can never die!"

That, in a buttercup, is the story of Congress '52. The very high standard set by the three previous gatherings made us somewhat sceptical about this novelty, a Congress without a theme, and with even a V.U.C. lecturer on the programme, but long before the end we were one and all congratulating the Controller, Duncan Stewart, on having equalled the best previous record for organising a set of brilliant talks and a social programme that left little to be desired.

If discussion was slow to warm up, the hut parties, with their open doors and open throats, were by no means so, especially when forty or fifty songsters crowded into one four-man hut, chanting seditious ditities from the S.L.F. Song-book, without any particular idea of a tune, until the grey hours. With the cheery help of Theo Allen, of the Department of Internal Affairs, indoor and outdoor sports, notably volley-ball, got under way, and, if the weather had not washed out the inter-college competition, the contests might have entered world class, at least for hilarity.

The "fishing" expedition to Ship Cove and vicissitudes on the return journey, which provided an exemplary manifestation of the verse "I'm washed out like a dish-rag!" also supplied the daily Press with some exultation Over the damping of "the intellectuals," the glow from which had penetrated even its blinkered myopia. Although fishing was knocked off this day's programme by the falling barometer, Dun carts very sensible plan of having every afternoon free left the enthusiasts plenty of opportunities to stock up for fish-fries at night. It also allowed more time for the less hardy to improve their minds. Under the very able guidance of Don Anderson (O.U.) a group met on several afternoons to listen to poetry, from Dante to Pat Wilson, read by Jim Baxter, Philip Smithells, Bob Chapman and Don himself. Music rather lagged until Owen Jensen arrived, but thereafter he struggled manfully against the piano (or rather the forte) each siesta, while all and sundry enjoyed both his playing and his wit.

Apart from meals, we got down to serious business at least twice daily, in the mornings and evenings we assembled to hear series of penetrating lectures, each by a specialist in his own subject. These were followed by discussion in groups' under group leaders, and/or open discussion from the floor. There was no apparent pattern in the titles of these talks, but, and this was in our opinion the most amazing feature of the Congress, these disjointed specialities integrated into a pattern more coherent than that provided by a set theme, and helped at least some to find order in the academic fungus with which they had become encrusted during the previous year. No doubt this was largely due to the ability of the speakers, which was on a uniformly high plane, but it might perhaps be interpreted also as an illustration of the fact that the title "University" is not altogether a misnomer. Because we found this integration so striking we shall dispense with the chronological order of talks and fit them into the scheme as we saw it, in the hope of showing how they can draw together one's thoughts and ideals, and of eliciting dialectically the corresponding reactions of others present.