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Victoria University of Wellington 1899 ~ 1999 A History

Chapter Four

Chapter Four

1 A little before 8pm on the night of 5 November 1929, the librarian reported, a few small crackers were thrown in the library, but ‘I took no notice (the crackers were not the sort that have to be lighted)’. Some time later a group of about 100 students, ‘women as well as men’, gathered in the vestibule where the caretaker heard ‘a great noise and explosion of crackers and bombs’: when he came to investigate, he was pelted with fire crackers. The librarian was forced to close the library at 8.30. Forty names were taken and 27 students reprimanded for refusing to leave the library. The seven ‘ringleaders’ were fined £5 each for creating a disturbance (reduced to 10s after they formally apologised). (Professorial Board minutes, 1927–30, pp.402-12.)

2 Of the mayor, for example: ‘in his ten thousand speeches his Worship has never given cause for the slightest suspicion that he has ever come in contact with an institution of higher learning’. ‘Our heritage reviewed’, Salient, 27 July 1949.

3 Treadwell to the Council chairman, 1 Aug. 1949, VC file 1392: box 2F, P8.

4 ‘Belly rumbles in Weir’, appeared in Salient, 8 June 1949. Neither the imposition of the fine nor its amount were unanimous: Richardson (zoology) and Boyd-Wilson (modern languages) moved that the £1 initially considered be increased to £5. The fine was subsequently remitted on appeal to the Council, and the ban lifted after the Students' Association executive gave an assurance that all published material ‘shall be in good taste and shall not contain scurrilous or libellous attacks on individuals’. (VC file 61: box 92, P26.)

5 F.A. de la Mare, ‘A knight's progress’, in The University and the Community, Wellington, 1946, p.11.

6 P. Munz, ‘A personal memoir’, in Munz (ed.), The Feel of Truth, Wellington, 1969, p.12.

7 J.C. Beaglehole, Victoria University College, Wellington, 1949, p.61.

8 H. Reichel and F. Tate, Report of the Royal Commission on University Education in New Zealand, 1925, AJHR, 1925, E–7A, p.19.

9 Ibid.

10 M. Smith, ‘The Ritual Humour of Students: capping at Victoria University, 1902–1988’, PhD thesis, Indiana, 1992.

11 10% of all New Zealand university students were exempted in 1924. (Reichel and Tate, p.83.)

12 B. Hughes & S. Ahern, Redbrick and Bluestockings, Wellington, 1993, p.55. Women made up just over 40% of arts students in 1932, falling to about 30% in 1949. They were 20% of the science faculty in 1932, but only 8.4% five years later; 4.2% of law students in 1932 but just over 1% by the late 1930s; and well under 10% of commerce students.

13 Beaglehole, 1949, p.66.

14 Evening Post, 16 Oct. 1919, quoted in Gazette, 14 Nov. 1969, p.3; Beaglehole, 1949, p.190.

15 Spike, June 1902, p.6. The title was at first The Spike, but the definite article was later dropped, and it is commonly referred to as Spike.

16 There were three editions: the second in 1920 after a fire in the premises of the publisher Whitcombe & Tombs destroyed the unsold copies of the first (and as a war memorial number); the third, jubilee edition in 1949. It was jointly edited by Froggy de la Mare and Siegfried Eichelbaum.

17 The cow's death and burial – illegally – on the same hillside became a cause célèbre and a capping song (see Beaglehole, 1949, pp.128–9). There had been 105 applicants for the position of caretaker in 1906.

18 Spike, Oct. 1904, p.18.

19 Spike, golden jubilee issue, 1949, p.64.

20 The origin of Tournament was a tennis match between Victoria and Canterbury in 1900, and a suggestion from the Victoria club that it become a regular event. Canterbury proposed a tournament of tennis, athletics and debating to be held in Christchurch in Easter 1901, but this met with little enthusiasm elsewhere: it was George Dixon ‘in whom the idea blossomed with the force of revelation’, and who was responsible for the first Easter Tournament being held in 1902. (Beaglehole, 1949, p.72.)

21 Ibid., 1949, p.125.

22 Spike, silver jubilee number, Easter 1924, p.40; obituary, Spike, 1954, pp.6–7. A brass plaque was laid in the college library in 1954, and later installed in the foyer of the new student union building, ‘almost directly above the northern service line of the old tennis courts’ (The Student Union Building, Wellington, 1964, p.8). Dixon had been for 30 years private secretary to a minister of the Crown. Salient recorded Dixon's death in 1953 in its 11 March issue, along with that of Stalin.

23 Hughes & Ahern, p.30.

24 In Tournament tennis the Victoria women's team had won the singles eight times and the doubles six times by 1924, while the men had won each only twice.

25 Spike, 1949, p88.

26 Both prizes were inaugurated in 1905, the Union Prize with funds received when the Wellington Literary and Debating Societies Union wound up.

27 Betty Olphert quoted in Hughes & Ahern, p.61.

28 Spike, June 1909, p.65.

29 Spike, June 1930, p.80.

30 Spike, 1933, p.26.

31 Harry Evison in B.A. Sissons, VUWTC ‘71, Wellington, 1971, p.39. Sonja Davies gives an affectionate account of the Tramping Club in the 1940s in Bread and Roses, Auckland, 1984, pp.28–9.

32 Annual report for 1922, AJHR, 1923, E–7, p.15.

33 It was known as Victoria House from 1932 when the page 390 teachers’ training college closed: from then on it catered only to Victoria women students.

34 Spike, June 1907, pp.75–6; Evening Post, 9 Sept. 1955, 13 Sept. 1958.

35 Annual report for 1926, AJHR, 1927, E–7, p.20.

36 A pound-for-pound subsidy on voluntary contributions was payable under the New Zealand University Amendment Act, 1926; it was limited to £25,000 by an amendment in 1928; in 1931 the government refused to pay it altogether.

37 F. Irvine-Smith, The Streets of My City, 2nd edn, Wellington, 1974, p.81.

38 W.H. Oliver, ‘Weir House’, Spike, 1949, pp.72–3; Spike, 1939, p.56.

39 Report of the committee on building accommodation for students, Mar. 1939, Council minutes, 1939, p.21. Of the 615 students in the survey, 290 were living away from home.

40 Smith, p.109.

41 Unsourced newspaper report, 1936, in news clippings, 1935-36, university archives.

42 Auckland degrees as well as Victoria's were being conferred at the Wellington ceremony this year after troubles up north. When the undergraduates stole quietly into the public gallery from the fire escape and displayed a banner proclaiming ‘Silence’, Stout put an end to the proceedings and decided to confer the degrees in private, but all but two of the graduands refused to receive them.

43 News clipping, 1936.

44 Evening Post, 21 May 1938.

45 Dominion, editorial, 3 June 1936.

46 News clipping, 1936.

47 ‘Town and gown’, Spike, 1937, p.5; the Modern Churchman, quoted in Report of the Professorial Board on the conduct and discipline of the college, Oct. 1933, Council minutes, 1933, p.548.

48 P. Hughes, ‘“Sneers, jeers and red rantings”: Bob Lowry's early printing at Auckland University College’, Turnbull Library Record, Vol.22, No.1 (May 1989), p.18.

49 H.O. Roth, ‘The Weitzel case’, New Zealand Monthly Review, Vol.1, No.11 (Apr. 1961), p.22.

50 Report to the Victoria College Council in reference to matters arising out of the Weitzel case, Council minutes, 1921, p.84.

51 Council minutes, 28 Apr. 1932, p.328; Report of Professorial Board on the conduct and discipline of the college, Oct. 1933.

52 Student, Vol.1, No.1, 22 May 1933.

53 Interview with Bart Fortune, 7 Sept. 1985.

54 Council minutes, Aug. 1933, p.514; Report of Professorial Board on the conduct and discipline of the college, Oct. 1933, pp.548–9.

55 Council minutes, 28 Sept. 1933, p.536.

56 One, ‘The university and society’ by ‘Perseus’, offended with this misquotation of Shelley: ‘Men of England, wherefore slave/For the lords who lay you low?/Ye are many, they are few.’ The other, by ‘XYZ’, on pacifism and the Debating Society's vote against fighting for King and Country, described war as a product of capitalism.

57 This was not the first time the teaching of law in the university had been condemned in such devastating terms: the opening salvo of ‘Untwisted teaching’ echoed the words of the Reichel–Tate report: ‘It appears to us that, unless a marked change is effected in the legal education provided in the Dominion, this term [learned profession] runs the risk of being regarded as a delicate sarcasm’ (p.44).

58 Report of Professorial Board re college magazine, 10 Oct. 1933. Both the Students' Association and the Court of Convocation formally protested. The Council was affronted that the latter body should presume to effectively censure it for taking action to preserve the good name of the college.

59 News clipping, 1935.

60 Alec McLeod, ‘Nineteen years of student journalism’, Spike, 1949, p.82.

61 Derek Freeman (editor), Salient, 8 Mar.1939. Freeman, a student of Ernest Beaglehole, later achieved fame for his debunking of anthropologist Margaret Mead – who married Victoria student Reo Fortune, himself later a distinguished anthropologist (the brother of Student's Bart Fortune).

62 Salient, No.1, 9 Mar. 1938, p.2.

63 Beaglehole, 1949, p.279.

64 Only two activities are recorded: a survey of public opinion on ‘Hitler's speech to the Reichstag, April 28, 1939’, and a more ambitious ‘Survey of Personal Contacts – being a research into (1) the interests of New Zealand; (2) the sociological mechanisms governing the formation and interchange of opinion; and (3) Anzac day’. (Workers Weekly, 5 May 1939, p.4; Salient, 21 June 1939, p.3; R. Barrowman, A Popular Vision, Wellington, 1991, pp.78–9.)

65 Meek applied for the law lectureship to which I.D. Campbell was appointed in 1939.

66 Spike, 1939, p.38; interview with Rona Bailey, 3 May 1984.

67 Manifesto of the Victoria University College Students' Association, 1941 (adopted by the executive on 2 September and reaffirmed by a special general meeting on 18 September).

68 Dr Hubert Smith, Report on medical examination of students of Victoria College – winter, 1944, Council minutes, 1944, pp.476–9. The high incidence of flat feet was of course a wartime phenomenon.

69 Council minutes, 28 Mar. 1946, p.1040; principal's report, Aug. 1947, Council minutes, p.155.

70 L.G. Wright, History of the New Zealand University Students' Association 1929–1969, Wellington, 1970, p.45.

71 The society's charter defined ‘what it considered basic human rights – with emphasis on “economic freedoms”, but heavily flavoured with Papal encyclicals’ (C.V. Bollinger, ‘The noise of the battle’, Spike, 1957, p.41).

72 ‘Our social life’, Spike, Oct. 1909, p.17; Spike, Sept. 1921, quoted in Beaglehole, 1949, p.190.

73 Figures given in Spike, 1949, p.83.