Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 1. March 3 1968
Then there was Pete Jenkins, editor in 1949. who affronted the College authorities by two pieces of "scurrility" in a single issue: an editorial criticising the menu and living conditions in Weir House (which he had left the year before), and a contributed review of Dr Beaglehole's jubilee history of the College expressing gross disrespect for some Vic old boys then holding positions of eminence in the land (notably Governor Freyberg and Wellington's Mayor Appleton). The Professional Board issued a reprimand and fined Jenkins £5 — a lot of money to a student in those days.
A special meeting of the Stud. Ass. was requisitioned, shades of Areopagitica were invoked in the best Debating Society rhetoric, and a resolution was carried protesting against the Professional Board's infringement of freedom of speech and instructing the Exec, to challenge the fine in the courts if necessary . . . The Professional Board, after hearing Jenkins speak impressively in his own defence and fortified by Stud. Ass. backing, retreated and decided to let him off with a warning.
Conrad Bollinger, now back at Vic doing postgrad work in English, is best known as an agitator (for racial equality, nuclear disarmament, Vietnam, licensing reform, etc.), as editor of the Public Service Journal for four years, and author of Grog's Own Country. He was Assistant Editor of Salient 1949-51, and Editor 1957. He graduated M.A. in 1952.
1951 was a stormy year. The biggest industrial upheaval in the country's history broke out the week before the varsity session opened, and a timid Exec. took fright at the bellicose tone of Salient's first issue for the year, and wondered whether they had made the right choice of editor. (It was Bill Cameron, now professor of English at McGill at Montreal.)
Fate gave them the chance for a second choice when pressure of a postgrad course and appointment as a junior lecturer forced the errant editor to resign. Looking round for a likely successor, the Exec, disregarded the unwritten convention of always giving the job to someone who had worked on the staff of the paper; instead, their eye fell on Maurice McIntyre. who had sporadically edited a right wing rival to Salient over the previous couple of years, and he was duly appointed — while his old baby. Charta, quietly breathed its last. Entering with firm intent to make Salient as one-eyed right as he was sure it had always been one-eyed left, Mclntyre soon found things weren't as simple as that. Working with a group heavily imbued with the "red" tradition, he came to accept it as not only necessary but desirable . . .
From here, my participation in Salient was only as an interested reader, until an enlightened Exec. put me in the editorial chair in 1957 jointly with a man eight years younger but impossible to dominate. We saw our task rather as the first editors saw theirs in rescuing college journalism from the banal parish gossip of Smad (which had dominated the field from 1930 till 1937). Taking over in 1957 from Nick Turner (now a sort of P.R.O. for Marshal Ky) who seemed to have taken Salient finally down to the end of the old Smad road, we proclaimed ourselves to be "idealists and dogmatists. If we find a 'truth', we will bash you over the head with it ... No punches barred and no apologies to anyone. Our paper will revel in stirring up trouble. We shall dig stale fish out of rubbish bins and . . . Hap them under your noses."
The words were Wood's, but I shared the sentiments heartily enough. In the upshot, the biggest rows we managed to provoke were over an increase in cable car fares, and a seemingly endless controversy about whether Christian students had an obligation to be interested in politics. Feature articles criticising aspects of the New Zealand way of life — the press, the secret police, the licensing laws, and our foreign policy — fell into the bond without a ripple.
Still, judging by the past decade, we appear to have succeeded in reviving the essential tradition of Salient as an irritant on the campus . . . which is what a student journal surely ought to be. I know it irritates me sometimes.