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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1925

Putting the Professors to Work

page 44

Putting the Professors to Work.

Of the many impressions a student receives at V.U.C. in his first year, three are commonly strongest—first, the unanimity of existing opinion that College life at V.U.C. is not all that it might be; second, the slight interest shown in the wefare of the College by those who should be most interested—the Professors; third, the utter indifference of the public to the University in their midst.

Of course the first opinion is correct. University life at Victoria is for most students merely a course of lectures. The academic year is short, there are exams. to pass, "results" are demanded, students and Professors strive for "results," and "results" they get. When there is a sufficient number of full-time students things will be different—and so on. All "old stuff," this, but in great measure true, and it has to be reiterated.

What of the Professors? Fine, learned, efficient men they are—and their influence, like that of the drapery-store boss over the young ladies in the glove department, lasts just as long as they are in sight. They dictate their notes, and make their little witticisms (same witticism in the same lecture every year) and away they go. A few are Presidents of College Clubs. One, perhaps two, actually work for the Clubs. The others had better be called "patrons": the term would indicate more actually their importance.

And the outside public? What do they think of the College? To most of them it signifies little: the word calls up visions of posturing youths in the streets, leg-shows in Post Office Square, or, at best, green jerseys on Athletic Park. Many people are vaguely hostile; they suspect there are "Bolsheviks" at College. The word is meaningless, but their use of it indicates their feeling of suspicion, distrust, and contempt.

It is a lamentable fact too, that although there are 700 students at College, and they may be assumed to have, collectively, 1,200 parents, few of the parents have ever been within the College walls, or attended a College actively (except a football match or "extrav."), or met one of the Professors; in short, they have no adequate conception of what the University hopes to be, or even of what it is now. Yet the very unanimity of the opinion that there is something wrong is a hopeful sign. It betokens a large number of students longing for a fuller life at 'Varsity and willing to work to get it. They need a leader. And here is the root of the trouble.

The College has no head, no chief: there is no link between the College and the public. There should be both, and he should be the same man. Call him what you like—president, if you incline to Americanisms, or principal, or warden. But he must be a man of culture, which is to say that he should be neither a back-slapper nor a man coldly learned. He would co-ordinate all the activities of the College, represent it in public, interpret its wishes, and gain for it the practical support of those who now pay for its upkeep, would do more for it if they were encouraged, but are now insolently ignored. Not the least important of his duties would be the control of the Professors, and the replacement of those of them who are clock-watchers by men of character as well as learning.

page 45

The obvious criticism of this suggestion is that it might make the College a glorified boarding-school. It should not, for the Principal would have no control over opinion. Even if it did, would it not be better than the institution now often described .as "a glorified night school?"