The Spike or Victoria College Review 1937
Buy "Smad" and Keep Up-to-date
Buy "Smad" and Keep Up-to-date
So ran the sales caption of the first issue of Smad for 1937, but on looking back over the issues of the year, one searches in vain for articles whereby knowledge on current events could have been acquired. Instead one merely finds columns and columns recording in painful detail the petty activities of an esoteric group who pass in and out of a red brick building on a cliff top.
In the first issue, readers' attentions were also drawn to the fact that Smad was "an organ of student opinion," but on reviewing the year's output one would be forced to the conclusion that few students held opinions on any subject outside the Gym. walls.
To say that this evidence of parochialism is regrettable is the mildest criticism one can make. Not in any circumstances can it be argued that Smad's sole function is to chronicle ad nauseam the assemblies and junketings of the College year.
We are well aware that this condition is not entirely the fault of the editorial staff, for a voluntary paper such as Smad is very greatly dependant on its contributors, but nevertheless it is the editorial competence that sets the standard.
Considering the editorials in retrospect we find that their main theme was Varsity spirit as manifested in tournaments, elections and building funds. Even those editorials which were concerned with broader issues such as the one on the principle involved in synchronising of Capping activities, and another on the Phoenix Club, displayed not only immaturity of thought, but woeful examples of feeble diction—to say nothing of regrettable lapses into the vernacular. With such material before them there is little wonder that would-be contributors with wider interests and of some talent would not consider the paper worthy of assistance.
Unfortunately one can find no comfort in turning to the accounts of meetings and events for here is found not only a total inability to report but also an appalling lack of balance and arrangement. To be specific consider the reports of the Capping Ball and "Till the Day I Die." In the first we are treated to a two-column blurb on an event that (owing to the vacation) had been almost forgotten, and consequently did not merit more than two paragraphs, while in the other an appraisal of one of the Dramatic Club's best productions concerned itself with a resumé of the plot!
Again and again this occurs; over two columns are devoted to senselessly recording the motions and counter-motions of the annual meeting, while a report of Professor Shelley's address to the Phoenix Club consists of a string of disconnected verbatim sentences so that the whole totally lacked continuity and interest.
The amazing thing is that although several correspondents' letters were published criticising the childish tone of the paper, the editorial committee seemed incapable of taking the hint, for no improvement in the standard was perceptible as the year advanced. If anything the level fell for it was noticeable that while the first two or three issues contained contributions of some merit and originality, both in verse and prose, they were conspicuously absent in later issues. Obviously contributors capable of producing these articles had become disgusted and had ceased to write.
It is quite unnecessary to hand out sops to the editorial staff for carrying out a thankless and exacting task. That is an accepted part of the job and students who undertake the responsibility know what they have to expect. In return for the honour they achieve by being appointed to the staff we have a right to expect a production somewhat above the standard of a school form magazine. Everyone knows that it is extremely difficult to raise contributions from a body so pressed for time as our working-student community but the most important of staff duties is to solicit and even to bludgeon contributions from those capable of giving them. In this, the present staff have failed lamentably for it is obvious from reading even Smad reports of debates that there ARE people in the College qualified to render intelligent commentaries on contemporary conditions and future trends.
It is idle to say that such articles would only be repetitions of the contents of the daily newspapers for it is obvious that the student mind with its superior opportunities should be able to analyse current happenings more intelligently than our regimented and venal press. In other words students should be capable of throwing page 32 some light on such vital topics as non-intervention and the local defence policy instead of apotheosizing our toy elections.
Though our principal charge is directed against the standard of the magazine we could also complain against the irregularity of issue and faulty methods of distribution but unfortunately we can hardly regard failure to receive our copies as any great loss.
In conclusion we cannot evade asking as to how long the Executive is going to allow the paper to continue in its present form. As it is produced now it is a sorry reflection on student intelligence and by no stretch of the imagination can it be considered a credit to the College. If it cannot be reformed it must be abandoned—and that would be a further reflection on student capabilities.
—O. A. E. Hughan.