The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1943
Salient on Parade
Salient on Parade
The Old controversy as to whether the V.U.C. student newspaper should confine itself to local student gossip or embrace the affairs of a wider world has long since been decided in favour of the latter. Avowing pride in the anti-fascist history of "Salient," the first editorial of 1943 proclaims that This war is to our mind the most important news and most important issue." So it is that the War, and, especially, the impact of the War upon student affairs dominate each issue of "Salient."
Before going further, let me express the opinion that the 1943 "Salient" is a very creditable production. In no previous year can I recall such a consistently good presentation of student opinions and discussion of international affairs together with adequate criticism and reporting of College activities. Perhaps in some ways the task is easier to-day. The vital issues are more clear cut than they were a few years ago when College anti-fascism was not always in favour with authority. The immediate common aim of winning this war impresses a certain unanimity on students as on otherpage break
elements of the community. Certainly, reading "Salient" in bulk leaves an impression that the student generally enters more seriously into the pursuit of learning and is more concerned with his place as a citizen than his pre-war predecessors were. Yet presuming that the enlightened attitude towards domestic and political matters which "Salient" has always encouraged does go down better with 1943 students, the editorial people still merit praise for the lead they have given and for the manner in which they have presented their material.
So much for the general impression made by "Salient" 1943. Turning to particular items, I think the correspondence section interested me as much as any other, not only because it suggested some of the tendencies referred to in the previous paragraph, but also because it seems that "Salient" is doing its job well by starting discussion on questions which otherwise would never have received the consideration that the act of writing requires. Especially, the provocatively woolly article by "Gabriel" on Vansittartistry in the first issue drew forth two replies with good arguments on this subject which I have seen nowhere else. The critics of "Salient" who made sorties into "No-man's Land" puzzle me, for I can find very little to support their claims that the early issues were dominated by" crudely presented overseas propaganda," and I do not think "Salient" publishes nearly as much "humorous and idiotic drivelling" as we find in the newspapers which "Big" no doubt reads daily. However, perhaps the complaints of Messrs Hayman and Witheford did stop the editorial committee from thinking that Russia is all the world; certainly, judging from the first instalment of the feature "Salient Advises," the generous withdrawal of the rest of their manuscript by H. and W. raised the standard of "Salient" several points.
Editorials were patchy this year. The first promised well, then for the second was substituted material which was good copy but which did Not take the place of an editorial. Why not an editorial on rehabilitation of learning in Europe, to set the correspondence columns going again? Particularly impressive was the high earnestness of most of the editorials. Indeed I would be inclined to suspect that it was mostly seriousness in words were it not for the record of Victoria's part in the Liberty Loan, in the N.Z.U.S.A. conference, and in other evidence of real activity which the paper presents elsewhere.
The "Message to Students" from the Students' Association President in No. 1, the very full report of the N.Z.U.S.A. meeting, and the accounts of Executive meetings indicate that "Salient" is keeping the students in touch with their governing body; while an editorial levelled against the Executive seems to have made that body hasten to catch up with the student demands! But why no review of the field for the Student Association Stakes? Properly handled, an interview of candidates does help the voting student—candidates so often give themselves away.
Judged as a whole—and that is all that time and space allows—the film and book reviews were well, and sometimes brightly written, and mostly have the commendable virtue, often missing in "advanced reviews, of saying something about their subject. To one who knew V.U.C. before the days of a music room the amount of discussion of music in "Salient" is as surprising as the existence of four musically-minded clubs in the College, and, despite a slight tendency to jargon and preciousity common in musical circles, reviews of the activities of these clubs make one keen to join in; which presumably is what a good review should do.
By the way, has "Salient" given up trying to find someone who can write verse, if not poetry? After pages of prose a reviewer longs for somebody who can mix a touch of humour with all this eager earnestness and give us some pithy satire or an honest parody. In the absence of indigenous graphic talent an occasional borrowed cartoon or illustration adds a little interest, but the large block under "This England" was not justified.
It is a pleasure to read a University periodical with so few misprints, and except for some bad touches of dodging from the foot of a column to the previous one or over a page, the magazine is well set out. Brighter headlines were a noticeable feature. However, I did draw blank looks when I tried out "Executive to Wrestle Board Worry" on a few people. The general standard of writing, too, is better, with fewer of those emotionally-charged catch words which dulled the edge of much previous writing in "Spike" and "Salient," but "Reds and "reactionary bourgeous finance page 30 capital" can't be kept down. Here's a new one—"interdisciplinary co-operation." Some-one on the Editorial staff should check a habit of running ideas together without the conventional (and very convenient) question marks, full stops, or connectives to aid the reader.
But before I descend to mere pin-pricking I can not do better than endorse the spontaneous tribute from J. V. Ilott in No. 9. Yes, "Salient" 1943 is quite a good performance.
And now for a final suggestion; when will the worm turn, and "Salient" review "Spike"?
N. T. Clare.