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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 1. 1964.

Truth's Brush with Weir Tars Haphazardly

Truth's Brush with Weir Tars Haphazardly

Truth last year published a front page story about Weir House. Weir's matron, Miss B. M. Wilson, had conducted a Truth reporter over the premises. The article, which appeared after most students had dispersed to their homes, painted Weir as a den of iniquity. The matron made unjust accusations, misleading criticisms and gave a highly coloured account of the way the students lived.

It so happened that the Matron had certain grounds for complaint, but by her impetuous action in pouring out her heart to Truth, she did more harm for the cause she claims she was interested in, the well being of the students, than she possibly imagines.

Repercussions, as Truth suggests, have been widespread, but not as Truth implies, mainly in support of the matron.

Some of the ill side effects are worthy of note:

. . . Students have been refused flats because of connections with Weir.

. . . Students in vacation jobs have had to bear the brunt of their workmates ridicule. Not only Weir students have been affected by this, but students from other universities as well.

Other reactions which may be anticipated are:

. . . more delay in obtaining finance for halls of residence.

... an unfavourable public image of university students.

... a hostile attitude to Weir men by citizens.

. . . freshers who have enough to worry about when coming to a university will be worried about just what sort of brothel they are coming to.

The matron did not show remarkable originality in pointing out the symptoms of a commonly recognised sociological problem, that of a university.

When first-year students come from the relatively strict atmosphere of a secondary school into a university, there are bound to be growing pains as they pass the transitional period. This problem deserves more intelligent treatment than Truth gave it.

In this connection the alcohol problem, which is one of the big hurdles for the fresher, merits consideration. The matron, who appears to have thought that the boys drank too much, placed excessive emphasis on the "no drinking" rule.

Now that she has gone, and there is a new Warden as well, maybe the time is right to look again at this rule completely banning liquor. For instance, Weir could well follow the example of halls of residence in this country and in Britain which allow drinking with certain meals during the week.

The new Weir House Warden is Dr. T. H. Beaglehole, Senior Lecturer in history, President of the V.U.W. Harrier Club and sometime Vice-President of the Students' Association.

Halls of Residence, in Dr. Beaglehole's view, provide a unique opportunity for a general education which it is impossible to obtain by merely passing units for a degree. His idea of Weir is not a place of noisy parties, not a place where students drank but where they talked. "The place should be alive intellectually," should be something like "Congress spread out over a year with some work done as well."

Dr. Beaglehole expressed surprise that the proposed expansion of Weir apparently made no provision for accommodating both sexes.

The future of Weir depends to a large extent on the Warden, but a great deal also depends on what the students do. If student organisation continues as weak as it has previously been the matron's legacy may remain. But with a greater degree of internal student government, as at Rolleston House in Christchurch, and in America, some of that sickly behaviour which was really what the matron was aiming at, could be wiped out.