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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, September, 1922

Association of Past Students of Victoria University College Resident in Otago

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Association of Past Students of Victoria University College Resident in Otago.

Early in the year G.W. Reid, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, University of Otago, received a letter from the Victoria University College Graduates' Association, Wellington, asking him to act as the representative of the Association in the Otago District, in connection with a movement for keeping ex-students of the college in closer touch with the affairs of the college .he accordingly circularised those past students whose addresses were known. As a result a meeting was held at his house on the evening of Saturday, April 8th, when the following were present: 1905, Naomi Dallaston; 1906, G. W. Reid, C. Taia Reid, Eva Skinner, H. D. Skinner; 1907, H. L. Cook, G. M. Cleghorn; 1908, Edith Davies; 1909, Ida Cleghorn; 1911, H. S. Tiley; 1912, F. Robertson; 1915, J. H. Beaumont, D. Bruce, E. Butler; 1916, R. Gardner, W. F. Shirer; 1917, Dorothy Maclean; 1919, N. M. Matheson, E. Sapsford, J. S. Hornblow; 1920, D. M. Frengley, E. L. Button, L. Randall, W. R. Edge; 1921, Maureen Frengley, L. A. Riddell. G.W Reid was voted to the hair H. D. Skinner spoke of the need of forming an association of alt past students of V.U.C. Membership of the Graduates' Association was necessarily so limited that year by year this Association tended to become less representative. It was an excellent thing for any university that the past students should take an active interest in their Alma Mater. There were two chief methods of keeping in touch: (1) by gatherings such as these; (2) through the columns o" "The spike" If we ever hoped to have an association of all past students the first essential would he that a card index he kept of every V.U.C. ex-student. Such an association as was contemplated, might by the nucleus of a wide-spread association, members of which could he kept in touch with each other and with College affairs mainly through the columns of "The Spike."Hence past students should certainly give "The Spike" their support, and every centre should have a secretary whose duty it would be to give detailed information about students in his district. It was also to be hoped that some scheme might he evolved whereby Founders Day, August 27th, might he fittingly observed. After lengthy discussion in which some divergence of opinion on matters of detail was apparent, F. Robertson moved: "That this meeting is strongly of the opinion that the V.U.C. Graduates' Association should en-large its constitution to include all past students, as the best means of forwarding the interests of V.U.C."The motion was circulated and signed by all present except one, and Miss E. Davies was empowered when in Wellington to get in touch with the Graduates' Association, and to submit to them the signed resolution. The re-solution was submitted to the president of the V.U.C. Graduates-Association, who promised to bring it before the annual meeting of that body on June 2nd. A reply was anxiously awaited but was not received. Two letters were therefore sent reminding the Association, and finally, on July 29th, the following telegram was re page 16 ceived: "Sorry delay replying. Association declines sanction inclusion of ex-students. Suggests formation separately. Writing. A. Fair "The telegram was communicated to the meeting held that evening, but owing to the indefinite nature of the message discussion was held over until August 19th, pending the arrival of the promised letter. The lateness in the session prevented further delay, and the meeting was accordingly held on that date, the secretary announcing that no letter had been received (nor has one been received up to the date of writing, September 13th). It was now evident that although the Graduates' Association had requested us to initiate the movement in our district, we could get neither assistance nor criticism from them. An Association of Past Students of Victoria University College Resident in Otago was therefore formed, and a constitution adopted in which the aims of the Association were specified as follows:—
1.The advancement of Victoria University College.
2.To provide means of bringing together past students of Victoria University College resident in Otago.
3.To make use of "The Spike" in recording the movements and achievements of past students, and in otherwise furthering the objects of the Association.
4.To promote the formation of a general association of past Victoria University College students.

The following officers were elected: President, G. W. Reid; Vice-President, E. R. Davies; Secretary and Treasurer, H. S. Tiley. Committee: H. D. Skinner and R. Gardner.

All the meetings of the Association have been held at Mr. G. W. Reid's house, and to him and Mrs. Reid the sincere thanks of the Association are due.

To the Editor.


A perusal of the notes from Otago which are published above will explain the collapse of any confidence in the Victoria University College Graduates' Association that any past student of V.U.C . resident in Otago may ever have possessed. It may, indeed, he doubted whether the Graduates' Association has ever inspired confidence in any one. Its handling of the Victoria College War Memorial Appeal was timid. Its suggestion for the building of a residential college shows no promise of developing beyond the suggestion. In the prosecution of a constructive policy the Association has lamentably failed. It might, in fact, have been foreseen rom the beginning that an Association from which two-thirds of the men and women who have studied at Victoria College are permanently excluded is likely to prove an indifferent guardian of broad College interests. It is even to be feared that it is likely to guard more jealously the privileges of graduates than those wider and more fundamental rights which affect all students and all universities. The blame for failure does not fall on the office-bearers of the Graduates' Association: it falls on the narrow franchise on which such

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V.U D. Graduates, 1922

V.U D. Graduates, 1922

Photo by Zak Studios

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bodies are based, and the consequent narrowness of aim inherent in their very nature. A like failure marks every other Graduates' Association in New Zealand. The limit of their achievement has been the development of social functions purely local in character.

No one blames the V.U.C. Graduates' Association for its attitude towards the Association of Past Students of V.U.C. Resident in Otago; from its own point of view that attitude is probably correct. Nor must we grieve too deeply over the Executive's hopelessly unbusiness like method of dealing with correspondence. This is due, not to ignorance of business methods on the part of its members, but to an entire absence of any enthusiasm for the aims of the Graduates' Association, a like warmness easily understood when their uninspiring nature is considered.

The time has come for the formation of an association which shall include not only graduates, but all students who have ever attended lectures at Victoria University College. The first work of such a body should he to draw up a roll of past students grouped according to year of entry, on which basis an association may ultimately he organised wielding an influence comparable with that wielded by the associations of alumni of the great universities of the United States. Its principal function would he to keep its members informed of the progress of Victoria College, the growth of its numbers, its buildings, its equipment, and its endowment, the policy of the Council, and the needs and achievements of its various faculties.

It is obvious that such an association can have its headquarters only in "Wellington, and that its success will depend on the vigour of its Wellington executive. But its aim is a high one, and it is believed that men and women will come forward who will carry it through. Among the non-graduates who form a large majority of the past students of Victoria College there are many of our best and ablest, and it is hoped that they will play a prominent part in the proposed corporation. It is greatly to be hoped that bodies similar to that already formed in Otago will he formed in other parts of New Zealand. But a condition essential to success is the formation of a strong central executive in Wellington.

The suggestions contained in this letter would never have been definitely formulated had it not been for the contagious enthusiasm of Miss Edith Davies, with whom they have been discussed on many occasions during the last two years.

I am, etc.,

H. D. Skinner


A proof of the report and letter printed above was at the request of Mr. Skinner submitted to the President of the Graduates' Association for any comment he cared to make. His reply is printed below. it is sincerly to be hoped that the matter having got so far will not be allowed to rest before some comprehensive scheme has been thought out and put into practice. It is undoubtedly of vital interest to the welfare of V.U.C, and present as well as past page 18 students will do well to consider it most carefully. We regret that the communications arrived too late for further editorial comment.—Editor "Spike."

Wellington, September 19, 1922.

(To the Editor.)


I have to thank Mr. H. D. Skinner and yourself for the opportunity of commenting on the above notes and Mr. Skinner's letter.

The duty of conveying the Graduates' Association's decision to Miss Davies was left in my hands; and the fact that no intimation other than the telegram was sent was entirely due to my omission. I am glad of this opportunity of expressing my sincere regret for the apparent discourtesy of such an omission.

The question of altering the constitution of the Graduates' Association so far as to enable it to include all ex-students was considered by the Executive who decided against it. It was later considered by the Annual Meeting. There was, unfortunately, a very small attendance and the proposal was again negatived. from the discussion it appeared that the majority of graduates present thought such an extension of membership would tend to weaken the influence of the Association. They thought the sounder plan was to increase its membership on the existing basis.

Personally I am Strongly in favour of the Otago proposals and agree with Mr. Skinner in thinking that some of the best and ablest of our students are among the non-graduates. I think also that such an alteration as suggested would cause past students to take a more active and energetic part in College affairs.

I regret, however, that Mr. Skinner has failed to acknowledge that the Graduates Association—although not as enthusiastic or active as he could wish—has still done something to assist the College. The War Memorial Window is largely due to its action. The farewell presentation to Mr. Aitken was an indication of its efforts to help in College affairs. It has in hand the preparation of such a list of students as Mr. Skinner suggests. It is in touch with the Students' Association in connection with various College affairs, and it has little doubt that it will he able to assist in the foundation of a College Hostel within a reasonable time. Mr. Skinner seems to me to have measured it by its shortcomings rather than its achievements.

But when this has been said a great deal of Mr. Skinner's criticism is too true to be pleasant. We need more members, more energy and more enthusiasm. We want to see more of the new graduates seeking to serve the College. I hope that Mr. Skinner's letter will inspire not only the non-graduates but also the graduates to a sense of their obligations and opportunities: and that both bodies (if they do not unite), will work together or the welfare and advancement of Victoria College,

Arthur Fair, President, V.U.C.G.A.