The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1918
Mr. James Thompson (late Captain in the N.Z.E.F.) accepted, at very short notice, the position of Assistant Lecturer in French rendered vacant through the death of Mrs. Macphail. Mr. Thompson is a graduate of Otago University, where he gained his M.A. with first-class honors in Latin and French in 1913. He was a senior National scholar in 1908, and in 1909 gained a junior University scholarship at the Otago Boys' High School, where he was that same year dux of the school. In 1912 he passed his B.A. at Otago University, and gained the senior scholarship in French.
Mr. Thompson has had a fine career also in sport. In 1911 he represented the N.Z. University at football versus Sydney. From 1910-13 he was a member of his University's First Fifteen, and also of the cricket team. In 1914 he was a representative of the North Otago Football Association. He was appointed French Master at the Waitaki Boys' High School in 1914, but in 1915 he resigned to enlist, and left as 2nd-lieutenant with the 5th Reinforcements. Mr. Thompson saw some service on Gallipoli—from there, suffering from enteric fever, he was invalided to England. In 1916 he rejoined the N.Z. Division in Egypt, and went to France with them in April of that year, where he spent some six months. He page 37 was wounded at the Somme, and spent three months in England, mostly in hospital. In 1917 he was promoted to be captain in the Otago Company; but being dangerously wounded through the lung at Messines, he was invalided first to England and then back to N.Z. on the Marama, arriving in Dunedin on New Year's day, 1918, and on March 6th he was discharged from the N.Z.E.F.
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For a number of years the lack of suitable recreation grounds attached to the College has been keenly felt by both men and women students. It is when one retires to that indescribable chaos commonly known as the Men's Common Room, to obtain a few moments' respite from "the maddening throng," and hears pandemonium let loose in the shape of thirty or forty footballers on the top floor, that the need of some such playing fields is forcibly brought home to one. Again, the remarks passed by certain frozen men-students who, intent on becoming thawed at the cheery fire in their common room, find it in the possession of some committee meeting, are not always couched in the best Shakespearian English. The only solution, then, to the existing condition seems to be a new college on a new site, in which every department of student life, both instructive and recreative, will be given full scope for its activities.
Some little while ago a Commission was set up to consider the improvement of that immense clay-patch on which the military barracks now stands and which is commonly known as the Mount Cook site. These gentlemen reported that the site could best be utilised by the formation of a civic centre built up around the present barracks. This was to take the form of a huge rectangular building surrounding the present structure; in it were to be included a Museum, an Art Gallery, a Technical College, Techniological Laboratories, while at the southern end connected up with all these other institutions was to be a University College. This scheme would have most certainly improved the Mount Cook site, but we cannot see how the present position of the University would have been in any way improved by such an arrangement. It is highly probable that residential quarters for the students will be attached to any new building of this kind, and when we consider, in addition, our present need of recreation grounds, we fail to see how this scheme would have in any way bettered our present conditions—nay, we fear that our second plight would have been worse than the first. There does not seem, however, to be any immediate prospect of this scheme being carried out.
A number of other suggestions have been made with regard to a new site for a University College, the latest of which seems to be the most practicable. It appears that the residence of the Governor-General is far from being suitable for his needs, and it has been suggested that a new College be built on the site now occupied by Government House. This site is quite a large one, and would, apparently, be admirably suited to our needs; but whether anything will eventuate from this remains to be seen. In the meantime, we must possess ourselves in patience, awaiting that joyful day when the footballers and members of other clubs will be able to practice without weakening the foundations of the gym., and when that poor, down-trodden man-student will have a common room worthy of the name!