The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1925
The insistent demand for University Reform has at length caused Authority to set up a Commission to find out what it is all about, who wants it and why, and what is the most (and least) that can (or should) be done. Authority will then, we presume, do something, or anything, or nothing. It has been privately suggested, with no change of facial expression observable by us, that the "Spike" "give a lead" to the Commission; we absolutely decline to attempt anything so egregious. The "Spike" has work enough engaging the interest of its actual readers without manufacturing penny thunders wherewith to excite the admiration of supposititious ones (who, if someone mentioned the "Spike" to them, would look blankly at the informant and uncertainly examine their chairs or their tempers). For the views of the expert, however, who can make the subject intelligible, or even interesting, to current readers, our pages are athirst: him we cheerfully invite to "Blow till thou burst thy wind, if room enough!"
Editors' Honour List
The lawless character of the "Spike" to-day is given a sharp twist towards respectability by the distinctions which a discerning Government has, since last issue, conferred upon three former editors. Mr. Justice Ostler was the first editor of this Journal. Mr. Arthur Fair, K.C., Solicitor-General, edited it in 1910, and Mr. C. H. Taylor, Crown Solicitor, Wellington, in 1911. The latter two gentlemen, and particularly Mr. Fair (we place a special emphasis on that word "particularly") have kept in active touch with their Alma Mater, and his Honour was prevented from doing so only by the fact of his residence in another city. To these honoured ex-students, who performed their full share in the building of our traditions, we offer our heartiest congratulations. We more than rejoice with them in their successes; we unashamedly gloat over them, and take fresh heart of grace in the matter of our own irresponsibility.
The Assistant Librarian.
We had been an admirer, if a somewhat diffident one, of the recently-appointed Assistant Librarian long before her translation from the Public Library, where her genial pronouncements upon the negligible authors with whom we are accustomed to besot our spare-time fancies, and her adamant findings for tardy returns, taught us to respect her admirable quality. It is with gratification then that we see Miss Phyllis Isaacs gracing the Chair of Dignity in the Holy Place. May she long continue to grace it, to the lessening of white hairs upon a certain venerable head and a tempering of the severity born of the annually-renewed struggle for the Perfect Silence.
Gowns For Undergraduates
This entrancing suggestion, the impracticability of which has hitherto been so taken for granted that the Debating page 53 Society (of pre-war days, needless to say) could actually discuss it without provoking adverse comment, was considered at the 1925 Annual Meeting of the Students' Association and solemnly adopted as a recommendation to the Professorial Board. The Professorial Board, wisely recognising that the fulness of time had yet to arrive for the distinctive habiliment of V.U.C. students, smiled politely (we hope) and said No; so that the "Spike" need have no fear of being kept awake during office hours by urgent applications from drapery firms for advertising space in its pages. The following account of the discussion at the Annual Meeting is contributed by a student who admits a strong antipathy to ceremonial attire:—
"The prime instigator of the innovation was Mr. G. O. Cooper, who invited us to urge the College Council to make compulsory the wearing of gowns by all undergraduates. The proposition was shown to rest upon a number of grounds. First, the cost would not be great, at any rate not after the thing got so thoroughly in swing that second-hand garments would be purchasable; secondly, there was ample precedent; thirdly, prolonged discussion seemed likely and he would not detain the meeting. The seconder, Mr. Coningham, naturally felt that the mover's exhaustive and powerful treatment of the subject absolved him from the necessity of making a lengthy speech. He did, however, make the excellent point that gowns would enable us to wear our dress suits in lectures, with immunity from unkind gibes, if at a late hour we were due to attend a function at Government House or the Victoria University College gymnasium, in which case we would, of course, be obliged to appear in that decorous garb. Another speaker reminded us, with unanswerable logic, that even if gowns cost five guineas apiece, no undue hardship need ensue, since 'nobody is compelled to attend a University unless he can afford to.' The motion was carried!"
The Extravaganza for this year was a distinct improvement upon those of the past two years, for there was none at all. We understand that one was submitted and rejected. The reasons for its rejection we are not in a position to judge; we hope they were based upon a more acute sense of 'Varsity requirements in this matter than has been displayed for some time past. While we hold to the sneaking belief that the College can muster the ability to transform effectively any material offered it for the purpose of a Capping burlesque, at the same time we cannot but applaud the apparent decision of the Stud. Ass. to do without an extravaganza altogether rather than produce one outside of Capping time. This, together with our emancipation from the fetich of the Paid Professional Producer, makes it safe to predict an early return to the Capping extravaganza of tradition. Some of the verse in this issue appears to indicate the presence among us of a student uncommonly capable of composing one.
Mr. Mceldowney's Paper
The first year of a new journal is not unseldom like the first year of a young lawyer, undistinguished by any considerable success. The "New Nation" is by no means as yellow as its page 54 cover; it has grappled valiantly with its varying initial fortunes and follows the "trial and error" method with an assurance that argues faith in the enterprise. Mr. McEldowney, the editor and proprietor, is a former V.U.C. student of some prominence, and carried away from this place a full equipment of the ideals of his day. It must be true that these ideals were more conservative than those of present students, for the "New Nation" has made its way very carefully and used wise old heads where many people looked for wild young ones. Nevertheless, we wish Mr. McEldowney every success; we even forgive him for walking away with the valuable efforts of several of our best contributors.
We cast the roses of congratulation at the feet of our brother J. S. Yeates, a man of almost incredible scientific attainment, and one of the best of fellows withal. He has just taken what we think is the first Ph.D. granted by the University of New Zealand, and is on the point of leaving for Cambridge with the first award of the new Science Travelling Scholarship— these honours as the culmination of two years of very brilliant post-graduate work in plant cytology. V.U.C. has turned out few men of finer record or promise. Besides these attainments of the intellect, anyone who has tramped and camped with him knows how hard it is to feel one is doing one's due amount of work in comparison with the Yeatesian efforts. We speed him upon his way regretfully, but in the expectation of further glories—a good student, a good tramper, and a good friend.
Irene Thwaites to D. R. Robinson (Cant. Coll.).
Bessie Norris to A. D. McKinlay.
Dr. Lotsy's Visit
The visit of Dr. J. P. Lotsy to New Zealand and his course of lectures in this College last term served to bring into direct contact with us one of the leading thinkers of the day. A native of Holland—that cradle of famous scientists—Dr. Lotsy was already a botanist of wide repute when, in 1916, he enunciated the theory set forth in his book "Evolution by means of Hybridisation." This aspect of his work is not only of the highest scientific import, but it is of immediate practical use in the breeding of plants and animals. To read his book is an interesting, even absorbing, experience; to hear his work from the man's own lips was inspiring. Dr. Lotsy proved to be no dry savant, but a genial, human fellow, with a splendid command of English and a ready fund of humour. Whether or not his theory be proved, it matters little; the real benefit comes from the fresh angle of view and the stimulus given by the unorthodox.
V.U.C., which once inspired the homage of spades, is now rich in clubs, any of which may be joined with no more ceremony (or expense) than the scratch of a pen. The Debating Society page 55 provides exercise for the amateur politician, of one colour or many; the Free Discussion Club, for the thinker; the Social Service Club, for the practical Christian; there is hardly any quality or ambition which cannot be fostered in some College confraternity or other. And now we have to add the Historical Society, which follows the method of the free discussion, and the Musical Society, which restores to us the old Glee Club. Truly, we have happy, learned days before us; but what will happen when an Economics Society springs up, and a Psychological Society, and a College Law Society? Will there be time and room enough for them all? In the meantime, let the Debating Society hasten to rename itself the V.U.C. Political Club, while it still has a field of discussion left to it.
Loss and Gain
Welcome to D. O. Williams, M.A., F.R.E.S., who succeeds Dr. E. P. Neale as assistant in the Economics Department. A very fine statistician (no less than New Zealand's leading authority) goes over to the Public Service; a very fine fellow (at the very least) comes back to us, unspoiled by his sojourn among the barbarians. Good luck to them both!
"The Free Lance"
The local comic paper is at it again! The humour of the "Free Lance" is seldom to be taken seriously. Its serious pronouncements, however, are sometimes really funny; perhaps that is the reason why it survives. Or is it that the afternoon-tea sessions of the local Mayfair are incomplete without an occasional dish of the usual claptrap about the V.U.C. Debating Society? Poor old V.U.C.! In a city where rich men tumble over each other to bestow large sums of money upon public and charitable objects, you alone remain unbenefited; the public-spirited rich man cannot stomach the Debating Society, so makes his munificent bequests to the Plunket Society, the Karitane Home, the Soldiers' Memorial, the Art Gallery, the Public Hospital, and so on. Look at the spacious parks and beautifully-equipped children's playgrounds donated to the City; count up the valuable scholarships bestowed upon primary and secondary schools, which do not indulge in the sinister activity of debate. What is a mere Chair of Economics or of Agriculture beside these? Go to, Free Lance! you deduce too much from an eightpence given in charity. Wellington is a dreadfully poor town—as poor as the quality of its humorous journal.
To lose a fellow-collegian by death is a sad thing. When that death comes suddenly and through misadventure, the loss is doubly sad. We bid farewell to our friend, Adam James Glasgow, a decent fellow and a good student, who died during a dental operation on June 22nd. To his bereaved parents we offer our deepest sympathy.