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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1934

The Challenge Of The 5th May, 1934

page 11

The Challenge Of The 5th May, 1934

There will be the greeting and the stir
Of fellowship within our rightful Hall.
There will be wassail at our festal board,
Glad voices, gay Terpsichorean throngs;
And we will make the ringing roof recall
The rousing chorus of our college-songs:
Giving the gold sand of a social hour."

"Spike," 1904.

"The Old Clay Patch," 1920.

—S.S.M. Ode on on the laying of the Foundation Stone of Victoria College, 27th August, 1904.

We refer elsewhere to the ceremony on the 5th May last on the occasion of the Official Presentation of the oil portraits of the Foundation Professors. By general consent of those who took part in it that ceremony was dignified, impressive and in every way in keeping with the spirit of the occasion.

From the present students' viewpoint the outstanding feature was the spirit of loyalty, not only to the Foundation Professors themselves, but to the College; a spirit of loyalty which induced many to journey from all over New Zealand especially in order to be present. Some journeyed to Wellington from points as far distant as Whangarei, Tauranga and Greymouth; others put aside the cares of their professions and business in order to meet once again on the Old Clay Patch.

At the luncheon and afterwards the love and veneration displayed on all sides for the Foundation Professors of the College was a revelation to those of us who are perhaps inclined to take for granted our College life and its privileges. The Reunion, for such in truth it was, held a peculiar interest for those men and women who attended the College during these early years when it had "eyes but no site," and who watched it grow before their very gaze from its humble beginnings under the wise guidance of the first Professors and their colleagues of later years. Those men and women gave wholehearted support to the Foundation Professors in their work and created a corporate feeling within the College itself, a feeling which has ever characterised the students of yesterday and to-day. That such a feeling should be manifested so early in the history of the College is at once a tribute to the Foundation Professors and to those who first attended their lectures. Perhaps, also, it was because of the scattered nature of the buildings in which lectures were held until the College on the Salamanca site was opened in 1906. There was another reason, too. Students were few, and intimate association and comradeship was possible within the restricted scope of the smaller building of that period. To-day, with the growth in numbers of students attending lectures, and the expansion of the buildings, there is not the same homogeneity. That early feeling of comradeship has waned, mainly because succeeding generations of students have not faced their problems in the same manner as their predecessors. It was therefore with feelings of shame that many present students compared their efforts to improve their surroundings with the efforts of those grand pre-war generations of students who, practically unaided, and by dint of hard work, provided for themselves, first, Tennis Courts and, later, a Student Building. True, the Tennis Club and the Football Club, with the assistance of the College Council, have improved the Tennis Courts in the one case and provided a training ground in the other. These Clubs have carried on the tradition, but the present Student Building, adequate in its day but ageing inevitably with the passage of years, is a reproach to the general body of students when we compare it with the splendid Union Buildings of the other three centres.

page 12

In 1940 Wellington celebrates its Centenary. In that year also the Easter Inter-University College Tournament will be held in Wellington. Here, then, is the opportunity for our post-war students to acknowledge their debt to the past. If we set about things in the proper manner we should be able to arrange a Reunion that would eclipse even that of 1934. As has been pointed out before the Presentation Ceremony in the Library was a visible acknowledgement of what all inwardly felt—the charm and the dauntless spirit of those who gave life to the College. The coming opportunity of Easter, 1940, might well be taken to celebrate this renascence of feeling.

Due to the magnificent generosity of the late William Weir, a quickening influence has been brought to bear on our College life during the last two years. The residents of Weir House have taken a leading part in every College activity, and the College has greatly benefited thereby. At Capping time, if there was a Procession to be arranged at short notice, or some men required to fill vacant places in the Extravaganza, a harassed Executive could with quiet unanimity resolve to hand on the tasks to Weir House. The same is true in the sporting world. For the first time in the Football Club's history two lower grade championships were won by teams from Victoria College. One of them, the third grade team, was almost entirely composed of Weir residents. That this group of less than 100 students has been able to exert such a beneficial influence on the College in so short a time, an influence comparable to that of the Foundation Students, has been possible simply because the enthusiasm of its members has been fused through the possession of a common meeting place where matters may be discussed in comfort.

Weir residents have not a monopoly of the energy, the organising ability and the enthusiasm for College activities latent in the average undergraduate, but they have one great advantage. Whatever talents they do possess may be used to the full, simply because they have a focal point on which they may be brought to bear. Weir residents then are able to give expression to the veneration we all feel for the College, veneration which was amply shown by the manner in which all came to that Reunion of May 5th, 1934, from the first students of 1899 right down to the graduates and undergraduates of to-day. We of the present should acknowledge that debt, that feeling of loyalty and prepare for 1940 when even more could be present.

Adequate entertainment will be possible only if our facilities are improved. Let us then strive to have as the crowning point of Easter, 1940, the opening of our new Union Building.

The 5th May, 1934, reminded us, then, of two things, that we of the present generation have been inclined to forget the outstanding loyalty with which our predecessors have been inspired by the Foundation Professors, and the necessity for a College Hall in which we can welcome our guests and preserve the traditions of the past. Easter, 1940, is our opportunity. Our co-operation is necessary if the students of earlier years are to realise the desire expressed by many of them for a Reunion in the old familiar places on a more comprehensive scale than was possible this year. We can make that Reunion a truly College function only if we have the facilities within our College gates. The friendly co-operation of our predecessors is assured. Already we have a Permanent Building Committee in existence and we know that we have only to call on them and the many friends of the College they represent to know that a Student Union Building by 1940 would not be an idle dream; nor would the realisation of a greater ideal—a Reunion on the Old Clay Patch, such as was witnessed in 1924 on the occasion of the College Silver Jubilee. Achievement of these two complementary ideals, for one can scarcely be possible without the other, may be attained only if we of 1934 recapture the spirit of the Foundation years, when difficulties were looked on as mere problems to be solved. The fifth day of May, 1934, is a challenge—a challenge that we must accept if we are to walk worthily in the footsteps of those who preceded us on the Old Clay Patch.

R. J. Larkin.