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Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 19, No. 3. March 24, 1955

Editorial — "Lunatics on the Fringe"


"Lunatics on the Fringe"

After hearing our beloved historian, Dr. J. C. Beaglehole, speak to freshman students some days ago, we suspect that he knew that a large number of those present would not heed his words. "Victoria is not a glorified night school", said the doctor. We would agree: it has lost it: glory: it is more a night school than ever. He cannot fail to appreciate that the role of the University in this country is primarily utilitarian. The average student (regrettably an entity only for statisticians) leaves Victoria more learned perhaps than when he entered, but certainly not more wise. Wisdom is gained largely through application of right reason to one's everyday life—the exercise of the traditional virtues and partly through that, a deeper end more penetrating understanding of human nature. A certain amount of what often nowadays passes for "wisdom" is merely the normal result of experience. Our contention is, and we defy anyone to disprove this thesis, that the average student does not gain any benefit from Victoria College beyond a meal ticket.

It is somewhat anomalous to read that Professor Bailey holds that a now library block is as important as a student union building. Granted, we could benefit immeasurably from a new library: But we would, as a University community, benefit even more from a union building When the science block was on the planning board, the College Council relegated the Union building to second priority; with the science block now under way, it appears that there is a movement to go ahead with a now library block: the union building will, it is assumed, again take second place. And so on.

Nothing at Victoria College is needed at this time more then a Union building. The common rooms, the cafeteria and the gymnasium—the students' facilities—are undoubtedly the worst in Australasia. We have in the past lain quiet because we knew there was little hope for improvement in the near future. The position is now changed. It is up to Council to take a waking attitude to the union building. A new seven-story science block costing £536,000—and two hundred yards away a gymnasium which has been in use since 1916, the electrical wiring system of which has been condemned.

What good is a seven-story science block or a new 250,000 volume library to the student body, if at the end of their stay hero of three, four or five years they come out impoverished in spirit and in health, with a degree signifying that they have satisfactorily regurgitated their textbooks and lectures and are prepared to apply their narrow intellects and glassy eyes to advancing the quality of toilet paper or wrappings for chewing gum?

We suspect, and indeed we hope that Council as a whole does not intend to neglect the union building yet again. They do realise that it is an absolute necessity. As such it must have first priority.