The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1935
A reviewman is lucky if he knows be-forehand what his readers want, and the more agile he is in catching their various views within one net, while maintaining an appearance of homogeneity, the more widely will he be commended. One such person intending to follow this enlightened principle, set out to find the student mind concerning Smad—but how true of students in general is the Canterbury College motto: Tot homines quot sententiae.
The opinions he gathered were like these:
"So like a newspaper,"
"Not enough like a newspaper,"
"Too much like a newspaper,"
and other fine shades of opinion. It seemed after this that the lesser tax on the reviewer's ingenuity would be to frame his story honestly. A reviewer's task is difficult indeed.
The first Smad saw the light in August, 1930. It had a bright green cover, and thenceforward aopeared monthly. Its avowed object was to direct the light of publicity on College activities and personalities and to defend student rights against the attacks of the oppressors.
In 1934 Smad was still alive; in the time that had elapsed its cover had become first a more sombre green, then black and white, and finally DhotoeraDhic. Its monthly appearance was only perhaps, hut it had lived to record some exciting events. In 1932 it saw a contemporary crushed by the oppressors; in 1933 it joined in the war waged in the name of Freedom of Speech (another contemporary was smitten), and in 1934 the Anti-Warriors kept College opinion on tiotoes".
The stiff chrysalis was shed in 1935 when Smad became a weekly. Apart from making for easier reading in lectures, the great advantage of the metamorphosis was the opportunity it gave of recording College activities before they became stale news.
One of the most noticeable features about life at V.U.C. this year has been the falling off of interest in debates. This is possibly due in part to the damping of the ardent spirits by restrictions on debating certain "dangerous" subjects, but be this the reason or not, the result of the falling off has clearly been to restrict the field of thinking among students, and to cramp the horizon within parochial limits.
All this has been reflected in Smad. The only sustained controversy has been on the perennial topic of Religion, and largely this has not been read; argument in this field is barren, and the ground covered is generally not new. Smad could find more useful things to do than to publish trite columns of religious debate. Of course it must be admitted that attacking religion seems to be a sort of teething ring for the young radicals, and perhaps they should be allowed to develop their teeth, even if they do decay later on.
Why has not Smad sustained useful argument in its columns? Student opinion can be kept active if it is tossed to and fro between the opposing blows of protagonists. If it is desirable for students to do any thinking outside the limits of examination prescriptions, then it is Smad's Heaven-sent mission to foster this activity. The editorial entitled "Controversy" was along the right lines and shows that the staff is aware of the problem, but the matter should not rest there.
Parochialism was mentioned. A sad feature of the new Smad is the way in which chatter about local events has preluded contributions of broader interest. This is due mainly to the newspaper form of Smad—which is not suitable for the developed literary efforts which its green covered predecessor was sometimes able to present. What Smad might very well do to prevent its outlook from becoming entirely local, would be to set aside a column for remarks on matters of national or world importance. Short contributions expressed perhaps in an irreverent or iconoclastic manner, could be most useful, and outsiders would have something to buy Smad for.
Although the balance of the material in Smad 1935, flippant and serious, local and controversial, might be improved upon, there is no doubt that the material itself has generally been excellent. Especially have the light-hearted reports of meetings been easy to read.page 19
A stony silence is registered on the subject of verse.
A complete page devoted to athleticism is a little cross that has to be borne. No doubt it succeeded in its object of giving the fans the "low-down" on the players. There was no soft soap about the Sports editor.
With the mention of soft soap the place seems appropriate for congratulations to the Editor and the staff on the excellent work they have done during the year. The efficiency of the organisation which always produced the journal on time —despite strikes—is monumental for a university. A word of praise should be added for the business manager who ensured Smad of continued existence.
P.S.—Something really ought to be done about the excessively puerile name the journal labours under.