SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1937. Volume 8. Number 15.
Model Letter to a Son — About to Become an Undergraduate
Model Letter to a Son
About to Become an Undergraduate.
As I have been many years a martyr in the cause of science at this fair hall of learning, and as there seems every prospect, that the University of New Zealand will this year renew my permit to study at Victoria College, as an undergraduate I have considered that perhaps I might find a more profitable outlet for my experience in the columns of your paper than I do in the script books of the New Zealand University (green books, 6 pages, yellow books, 10). I considered I might most usefully air this experience in the form of a letter from a typical father who was bitten, to his typical son who is about to be bitten. (May it be of use to posterity).]
Dear Boy (or Son, or George),
You are about to enter into a land of demagogues where every Club chairman is a Bob Semple, and even members of defunct committees may acquire renown. You will find one central body, the Executive, worthy to be the goal of your ambitions, but you will see around it many lesser companies of which, with (thank heaven) notable exceptions, the officers are won' too be elected for the high sounding of their names, their skill with the ball, their prowess at the dance.
You will find men with no degrees, men who by the law of fate, can never pretend to such an honour, and you will find others whose names have letters fore and aft. You will find dexterous cunning confused with intelligence; in other halls of learning than our own you may find teachers who do not recant the examination habits of their youth. Intellectuals will cross your path, socialists, even communists: by their snobbishness, their cultured speech, "and moustaches" you will know them.
You will be drawn towards the turmoil of Free Discussion Clubs from whose murky orgies even "Smad," of all publications, is included. Perhaps in these days of political, national, social and moral stalemate their activities have ceased, and in their ashes have risen societies whose deliberations you would do well to frequent, if you survive their attempts to discourage you at their initial meetings, by reducing Art to an algebraic formula.
From time to time an ancient College custom, called the Procession, will be revived. To it will come fifty undergraduates (if the continuous pictures break down) six lorries, one dog, and three thousand citizens viewing the display in a spirit of moral antagonism.
You will find the Students' Association fee on a sliding scale, increasing with each year at College. From time to time etchings of Mr. Brook's cottage will be offered for five guineas each, five shillings of the proceeds to be donated to the Building Fund; or else you may buy a copy of "New Zealand Beaut." with a front page reproduction of Victoria University College swathed in flames of "hell fire." Forbear now to contribute directly to the Building Fund for in twenty-five years' time you will be called on to contribute again in the name of your children, as I have had to do for you.
Lastly, may I say that you are at Victoria University College firstly to study. You will find men to jeer at "swot." Rest assured that if there were a better way of passing exams., it would ere now have been invented. I was one who jeered; I never had my double rise.
Your affectionate Father (Dad, Pater, Old Man).
P.S.—You will find at the College a cheap journal called "Smad" for which not even the worst elements in the College would deign to write. Spurn it as the plague.
P.P.S.—Play diligently for your Club at football, but be loyal, and decline all invitations to play in the Wellington Reps.