Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 14. July 12, 1939
Our intention was to compile and publish in this issue a symposium of representative opinion on "Salient." With this in view, we interviewed Brookie and a few others, and sent a note to four members of the staff, five students of the Arts Faculty, four of Science and seven of Law and Commerce. This note asked for a statement in not more than 100 words of (a) their opinion of this year's "Salient." and (b) any suggestions for future improvement.
There were one or two defaulters. The people selected were almost entirely subscribers of "Salient." and were representative of the different branches of College life. Actually we would have had justification for approaching some non-subscribers in whom we would expect the most hostile critics of "Salient." and our case would have been strengthened by the question of compulsory subscription.
We have before us the results of these quest ions, and at the outset we would like to congratulate the regular staff of "Salient" on the results. Most of the paper's readers who are best known in the College appear to be well satisfied with most features of it; in fact, some opinions gave no suggestions at all for future improvement. We intended to publish opinions exactly as received, even to doubtful grammar (alas, writing cannot be reproduced). However, only two kept to the 100 word limit, and we would have had to publish in all 2,700 words, requiring all the front page.
We have decided, in view of the quantity of other material worthy of publication, and in view of the lack of anything of critical value in many of the contributions, to take the drastic step of summarising them. Apart from what is on the front page, we cannot publish more than abstracts—in doing so we have realised the impossibility of thus expressing every shade of opinion. We realise that in doing this we are laying ourselves open to a charge of bias—accordingly the letters will be handed over to the permanent staff to be used as they think fit. The collection of the replies was in the hands of Mr. Ongley, and the summary has unavoidably been made without his knowledge, the editor accepting complete responsibility for the final article.
The great majority of contributors to the symposium seem convinced that politics have a legitimate place in "Salient," and that not too much space has been given to them. Mr. Hatherly expresses an opinion held by several others: "'Salient' has helped to fill a large gap in the description of current affairs that we find in the newspapers." The only ones who explicitly expressed their dissent to this view were two ex-Aucklanders. Messrs. Braybrooke and Stacey. Apparently they have different ideas about the function of a University paper at A.U.C. Mr. Braybrooke is quite definite in his attitude: "The weakest feature of 'Salient' is the political articles, particularly those on international politics—the average commercial magazine produces better and more valuable articles—the average article hasn't even the saving grace of being a representative expression of opinion." Mr. Stacey says "'Salient' ignores the vital object of any college rag: that of welding the various student activities into the nerve centre of College life. Student activities are relegated to back page news; instead, great emphasis is laid on certain conditions of social evolution and growth of little or no importance to us as students." Comment is made by six contributors on the one-sidedness of the political articles; but Professor Gould. Miss Pettit and Miss Bitossi (Arts) and Mr. Barker (Science) maintain that it is no fault of "Salient's". Mr. Parker (Arts) considers the one-sidedness could be overcome by a personal appeal to some of the more prominent students. In the eyes of Mr. Coddington (Arts) and Mr. Hatherly "Salient" contrasts markedly, in its freedom from restrictions, with the daily press.
Few contributions mentioned the reports of Club meetings. Mr. Stacey (Commerce) wants more of them and more detailed accounts. Mr. Jamieson (Science) and Mr. Coddington appeal for loss bias; but Mr. Hatherly attends in person all functions he is sufficiently interested in, and so needs no report. But he does derive some benefit from reading another person's impressions of a function that is yet fresh in his mind.
The Gossip Column
Four ladies (all Arts) and one gentleman mentioned the Gossip Column. Two of the ladies (Miss Guscott and Miss Pettit) were most definite in their condemnation of it indeed, so inveterate an antagonist is the former of anything that sounds as if it might be gossip that she did not wait until our last issue came out before condemning our "V.U.C. Students Abroad". The activities of such students "may be of slight gossipy interest to any who knew them, but surely the majority of students are interested in things of a more cultural and educational value." Miss Johnson and Miss Bitossi speak with more approval of the column, as does the gentleman. Mr. Heine. (We noticed him figuring there a couple of issues back).
The Literary Page
The most striking comments on the literary page are undoubtedly those of Dr. J. C. Beaglehole, published on page 1. Of the others who remarked on this part of the paper Mr. Jamieson suggested that some of the poets might insert a little meaning in their verse, and Miss Johnson and Mr. Barker appealed for more writers of verse, although they quite rightly pointed out that "Salient" could not be blamed for the lack of them.
The majority of these contributors make no complaint about the present serious tone of the paper; but Mr. Jamieson would very much like more wit and humour, and Professor Kirk suggests that the appointment of class correspondents might not be a bad idea.
Opinions on what are the best and the worst features in the paper seem to differ considerably according to the views of the contributors. The political and cultural articles find most favour with Mr. Coddington, and Miss Pettit likes politics too. Mr. Barker mentioned the symposium on jazz, and said he enjoys "Salient" particularly when it "holds the mirror up to the outside world." There would seem to be no danger of V.U.C. students succumbing to the enticement of "Academic shop and small-talk" as Miss Guscott puts it. Many opinions do not even hint at a worst feature and several refer to the admirable balance maintained between "accounts of local doings and the major and vital issues of modern life" (Miss Johnson). On the other hand Mr. Stacey is very emphatic that student activities do not get their due.
Most of the suggestions for improving the paper have already been referred to. There were not many of them—an indication that many readers are quite content with things as they are. Several, however, more discriminating in our view, are perturbed by the one-sidedness of the political articles and club reports. Miss Pettit, like Mr. Parker, thinks the only solution is to solicit contributions on controversial subjects. (Our own experience of the excellent response we received for our first issue confirms this.) "Even if the contributions received were not up to the general standard of 'Salient' articles" says Miss Pettit, "they would give a survey of student opinion." Miss Justine Smith does not think that the difficulty would be solved by "A holy alliance of Russian red and Baldwin blue" on the editorial committee. "The committee must work harmoniously to produce a good paper—which implies a degree of unanimity of viewpoint." The only other alternative is "the elaboration of a scheme for amicable alternation in control. The rivalry would be stimulating as appears from recent events". We are quite in agreement, provided that next time the job doesn't fall on us.
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