Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 1. March 13, 1958
President's Message— — State of the Union
State of the Union
I am delighted to have this opportunity to welcome those to our University who join us this year. I do hope that you will be very happy here and that your energies and labours will be well rewarded. I have already had the good fortune to meet many of you who are this year's freshmen when you visited us last year. In the coming year, at Easter, the Vice-President and I hope to visit many of your old schools which are in our University district. That is a pleasure to which we both look forward.
"Towards the end of last year The Victoria University College was reconstituted The Victoria University of Wellington by Act of Parliament This change in status brings with it a considerable extension of powers and authority. The steady growth towards autonomy together with the considerable physical growth, which is everywhere apparent on the Campus, makes this a most important period in the life of Victoria. With these changes will come new responsibilities which you will share."
At such a time as this in the development of our University an assessment of the present and a consideration of the possibilities in the future is not entirely out of place and it is my intention therefore to discuss one or two matters. As your knowledge and understanding of Victoria increases you will find that it is quite different in character from the other universities of Auckland, Canterbury and Otago and the Constituent Colleges of Massey and Lincoln. Much of this is due to our tradition of keen inquiry in many fields including the religious and political. Much of the character is due to the presence of a great number of part-time students who seek their livelihood in the city by day and attend the University for lectures in the morning and evening. As a consequence our association as individuals with the community of Wellington is considerable, yet the relationship between the City and the University has not always been the most cordial. Much can be done to improve this unfortunate condition and we should take every care, both as individuals and as a student body, not to offend the sensibilities of the citizens of our city.
Capping Book and Procession
Over recent years there has been considerable public and private criticism of our Capping Book and Procession, and it is evident that the standard and tone of these are in need of revision. My Executive has given careful consideration to these matters, and as a result certain directives have been given to those of our sub-committees which are concerned to see that the necessary improvements are made this year.
With regard to our capping festivities in general, I feel that it is proper to say that good humoured pranking could well be a tonic for the citizens of Wellington, but destructive behaviour gives an opportunity for our friends, and those not so friendly in their disposition, to be justifiably critical.
The least that can be expected of our pranks and publications is that they are witty and ingenious, if not brilliant, in their conception; skilful and accomplished, but not harmful or offensive, in their execution.
This year it is our wish to collect for charity during the procession. The charity to which we hope to contribute is "Birthright"—the civilian counterpart of "Heritage" which is, I am sure, known to all of you. "Birthright" aims to give assistance and guidance to those families which are deprived of their fathers. The Executive is convinced of the worthiness of this charity and I would ask that all who will be collecting should give it their full support.
This collection will be the first that we have made. I am sure that it is by such self-sacrificing gestures as these that we can recapture the goodwill of our friends of the City.
Student Union Building
There are many things we look forward to in the future and not least among them is the Student Union Building and Gymnasium which first appeared on the drawing boards as long ago as 1936. With these fine buildings we shall have much to be thankful for. In some of its features Victoria has been the Cinderella of the University of New Zealand, but with the new buildings we shall be unequalled in the provision of facilities for student life and recreation. We are to have a theatre seating approximately 400 people, common rooms, editorial and club rooms, a spacious cafeteria, and a dining-room for formal functions, quiet reading rooms and Executive offices. On a separate site we shall build a fully equipped gymnasium.
Our Union building will be the very centre of our corporate life and we shall be proud of it not only for what it will mean to us but also because it will be the realisation of the dreams of generations of students who have contributed very substantially to its cost. It will be a tribute to their patience and preseverance. It will be their building and it will be ours as well, for, apart from the Government, graduates and undergraduates will have been the larges group of contributors by the time that the project is completed. From 1957 onwards each student wilt be contributing £l each year which, by 1965, will represent a sum of approximately £28,000! Such generous giving has earned the praise of a former Minister of Education (the Hon. R. M. Algie), who observed that any Government should be pleased to help those who were so obviously helping themselves. The Government agreed to subsidies amounting to £115,000.
It was suggested recently that the University Council should appoint a Warden to the Union to supervise and control it and to coordinate the activities of students in association with Executive. The Association is strongly opposed to this suggestion. We are firmly of the opinion that the co-ordination and control of the functions and facilities of the Union should be the responsibility and prerogative of the Students' Association and not of the Council and its staff.
I have tended to confine my comments to the immediate future. That which is our past will be known to many of you. To those who wish to know more of it, I would refer them to Dr. J. C. Beaglehole's admirable book, "Victoria University College".
Those of you who join us this year do so at an interesting and important time in our history. I do hope that you will all take your part and place in our affairs, that you will discharge your duties and responsibilities with credit and that by so doing you will add to our fine traditions of which we are justifiably proud.