The Spike: or, Victoria College Review September 1921
Au grand jour du Seigneur sera-ce un grand refuge
D'avoir connu de tout et la canst et l'effet
Et ce qu'on aura su flechira-t-il un juge
Qui ne regardera que ce qu'on aura fait? . . . .
Three years have elapsed since November, 1918, marked the end of the war period. For three years we Collegians have flattered ourselves that we were working back to normal, to the standard of University life that existed before the war. For three years we have had Easter Tournaments and Capping Carnivals, and as many meetings and dances as the Professorial Board thinks good for us. But we have not struggled back to the pre-war standards; we live in a different era.
For one thing these latter years have doubled the number of students. While harassed Executives have been feeling their way, and fearing lest any mistaken action might harden into tradition, we have been brought face to face with the fact that our numbers are larger than can under the old regime be welded into a corporate whole. New minds have brought new energies; we welcome amongst us a dramatic club, a tramping club, a rifle club. The swimming club, too, has been revived, or ought we not rather say artificially respired, while all our older activities have taken another lease of life. Victoria is herself growing two new wings, and seems to be meditating further flights.
We pause to consider—quo vadimus. We believe that with all our new enthusiasms we fail to leave our mark on those passing through our lecture-rooms. They come, cram most of them a few odd text-books, pride themselves on fragmentary, half-digested page 8 theories, make, perhaps an acquaintance or so,—et voila tout. They bear no trace of that spirit—indefinable but comprising certainly tolerance, duty, esprit de corps, independence, and much more besides—that make in other countries the University man.
This is attributable, doubtless, to lack of opportunity. Night lectures, scattered lodgings, leave little space far culture. In both the old and new worlds Universities are residential; where exceptions exist, as at Sydney and in other colonies, it is the men in residence that form the vast majority and that represent, as we believe, the truest products of their Colleges.
Which brings us. as Gilpin might have said, to the middle of our Crusade. We want a residential college. It were vain, for some time at any rate, to expect assistance from the Government. But we can do much by a proper presentment of our needs towards accomplishing this end by our own enterprise and amongst private citizens. When we consider the districts that send their yearly quota to the College, Taranaki and Westland, Marlborough and Wairarapa, we do not think it impossible to launch this undertaking. The Government subsidy of pound for pound would largely swell the sum. Once built the College would easily pay it way, while also giving facilities to attend lectures which are semetimes now denied.
A couple of years ago, at the instance of the Students' Association, the various College authorities discussed the best method of utilising the land to the south of the College. While that land is quite inadequate for us ever to rival the Colleges and Universities of most other cities, there is nevertheless sufficient to do a great deal. A joint report was prepare. by the architect and engineer—a report hedged round, as unfortunately such reports are wont to be, with many "buts" and "ifs" and "possiblies." The result, however, is something like this. The triangle of ground nearest Kelburn Park is to be reserved for the College Hall—that is, we presume, until some benefactor gives us one. The next expansion for academic purposes will probably sweep away the Gymnasium and tennis-courts, a fact which must he considered by the student' Association when debating the urgent question of extending or rebuilding the Gymnasium. The Council recognizes, however, that such an expansion can only be proceeded with after providing suitable sites to replace the present one .It there fore seems that part of our idle lands will he devoted to these purposes. The remainder will almost certainly be graced with a residential college The space available could not sustain two colleges; and unless the Council can see its way to acquire adjoining land—which we believe to be quite practicable if funds are forthcoming—the less urgently needed women's college will be erected on alien soil.
So much for the future. At present we must bring before students the necessity of such a College, its great bearing on the development of a sane and healthy student environment, and its function in making University culture part of a student's life, not, as it is too frequently, mere veneer. We must, too. bring the public to understand these things, and this done, we think it not impossible for the Students' Association to commence a campaign on the lines suggested above, viz., to invite each district to provide the where withal for giving its youth a true 'Varsity education.