SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1931. Volume 2. Number 4.
We are informed by our daily contemporaries that the Council of Legal Education has at last had its first sitting. We hope for much from a body composed of such experienced men, but we could have wished that the Legislature had provided for some representation of the students who are those directly concerned. The Professors on the Council will be of material assistance in this connection, but the Professors themselves will be the first to admit that conditions have greatly changed since their student days.
Misunderstandings could be avoided if students representative of the four Colleges and of the external students were to be heard, and we are sure that the work of the Council would be rendered easier. In particular some sufferers under the present regulations governing law courses could offer some illuminating and constructive suggestions. The question of examinations and fees could profitably be examined from the student viewpoint. Recently examination fees were raised and the date of entry was changed to a month earlier in the year. Nevertheless time-tables' results and diplomas are as late as ever in making their appearance.
Again we see no reason why the Supplementary March Examinations should have been abolished—they were of material assistance to students and we hope they will be reinstated.
Professor Adamson is reported in the New Zealand Law Journal as telling a conference of the legal profession that he regretted the divorce between the Arts and Law Courses occasioned by the change in the B.A. regulations. We hope that it will not be considered presumption for us to concur heartily in this opinion. Law students should be encouraged and not hindered in their attempts to gain a more balanced education than the LL.B. course alone can give them. We feel that in addition to these defects in our legal education, there are many anomalies in the course prescribed for B.A. For instance, the regulation that at least one language unit, other than English, shall be included in the course has produced one curious result. Students who have forgotten what little Latin or French they ever managed to absorb, turn in desperation to Greek, where no preliminary knowledge of the language is required. We have then the peculiar spectacle of a Greek class, the greatest proportion of which has no intention of pursuing the subject any further than one year's study of the elementary grammar. Surely the time devoted to mugging up the equivalent of "mensa, mensam, mensae, mensa," could be devoted to psychology or economics or something that might be of permanent value to those concerned. Many students also are prevented from pursuing their English course past Stage I by the fact that the taking of the literary option at Stage I virtually bars a student from any further study of English.
Many students who are genuinely interested in the study of English literature have no philological interests at all and find the study of Anglo-Saxon and of Middle English an insuperable bar to their advancing the subject of English. The subjects of English language and English literature are as far apart as economics and zoology and appeal to totally different types of minds. There is certainly ample in either subject to form material for a year's work at the various-stages. Possibly the best reform that could be made in the B.A. would be to return to the old system, whereby the student did a year's preliminary work before proceeding to sit outside exams. This scheme had two advantages; it enabled the student to find out in his first year what subjects he really wished to advance, and secondly, it reduced the sitting of outside exams., the bugbear of all true study, to two years instead of the present three. We feel that this long discussion of degree courses expresses the ideas of a very large number of students who are increasingly dissatisfied with the muddled and discordant units which compose their courses.
Relations with the Staff
The Haeremai Club dance, referred to at greater length elsewhere in this issue, was noteworthy for the support given it by members of the staff. At present a large number of students have very little opportunity for meeting their own preceptors except in the class-room, and not unnaturally a feeling of constraint is bound to arise if this state of affairs continues. One of the back numbers of "Spike" contains the following passage—[we quote from memory]—"Education consists not in attending a course of lectures, but in sitting up till two in the morning with a friend with whom you can talk things over."
We do not suggest that dances should be held in this manner, but we do suggest that until there is a fuller and freer inter-change of ideas between the staff and students outside the class-room, V.U.C. will not be a true University.
Perhaps it was because we are all somewhat tired of our own local giants that the two debates in which we heard Messrs. Pfaff, Miller and Wilson, of Oregon University, seemed to us so exceedingly good. In their first debate, that on the "rising generation," they adopted a flippant, bantering manner, somewhat reminiscent of the Oxford debaters and our earnest young Colonial speakers failed to respond in like manner. However, when Prohibition was discussed, both sides came down to serious argument and a first-rate debate ensued. These visits of debating teams from one country to another play a great part in broadening student life and we hope it will not be long before a tour of New Zealand student debaters can again be financed.
Mr. Rollings took "the professional grumblers" somewhat severely to task at the recent annual meeting for their remarks anent the balance sheet.
V.U.C. Dramatic Club production, "Rope," August 14th and 15th.page 3
The remarks of the "grumblers" may or may not have been helpful in expediting the passage of the balance sheet, but we are not sure that the "grumblers" did not have right on their side. We are sure, however, that Mr. Jessep and his auditor, Mr. A. R. F. Mackay, are deserving of every praise for their efforts in hacking their way through the jungle of figures occasioned by the Executive's books being allowed to become three months behind. In any case the unfortunate "grumblers" were merely girding at what must be patent to all students—the slipshod methods of the past. Executives cannot afford to waste a penny if we are to have a new Union Building before the end of the present century; and the results of the bad old systems of previous years have imbued students with an uneasy feeling that haphazard management of student revenue is a luxury that cannot be afforded even in those times of affluence Victoria College has often heard of but has yet to experience.
A step in the right direction was taken by the last Executive when it directed that club balance sheets should be audited by some person competent to do so. It now behoves the Executive to put its own house in order by placing its activities on a more business-like footing. We understand that the Executive intends to re-organise its accounting methods. The time is long overdue and we hope that the Executive will put the matter in hand immediately. The Executive might advantageously consider the abandonment of such activities as tie-selling.