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July 10, 2006 | by  | in Opinion |
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Academic Idol: Round one

Welcome everybody to the inaugural Academic Idol at Victoria University. That’s right, it’s reality journalism. Reality journalism. Swill that around in your university educated anti-everything minds. Pretty fresh, wouldn’t you say? Just like the bakery fresh buns sold early on a Sunday morning, hours before you’ve dragged your hung over bodies out of bed and subjected yourselves to another mindless and empty day of downloaded Simpsons episodes.

The first round of voting has ended and this contest looks like it’s going to have far more of an authoritative mandate than your average VUWSA election. We’ve got the final twelve, the golden dozen, all prepared. We got the top 10, and threw two of our own wildcards in the mix. They’re here because they want to be crowned champion. The instinct to win is primal in humans. We’re a dog eat dog species really: even among those who make a living pontificating on such theories as the whole dog eat dog thing.

The idea is simple. Each week – one question, 100 words a lecturer. You vote one person off a week. And to go with the sheer jaw-dropping concept, you can even vote by texting. At the end of this one person will be left standing. And they will be crowned the one true Academic Idol of Victoria University. It’s a simple mix of Battle Royale, Lord of the Rings and New Zealand Idol.

The top gun of voting over the holidays was Grant Morris, the law lecturer with the almost movie-star profile around this university. His solid and tested fan-base may make him one of the only sure bets to still be around come the final rounds. But the onus is on him now, and will the pressure amount to too much? The two Davids, Burton and McLauchlan gave him a run for his money – before a late surge put Morris in the clear. Warwick Murray was in the top bunch as well, and buoyed on by his recent teaching award for his operatic teaching methods – he may be a force to reckon with. Sadly David Burton could not take part, but look for Morris, McLauchlan and Murray to lead the way as favourites in the competition a la Ben Lummis and Michael Murphy.

But this in no way a three-horse race, the final twelve is packed out with such punishing brainsmiths that literally anyone could be felled at anytime. You’ve got recent imports Sean Redmond and Matthew Wagner who’ll no doubt be battling firmly against long-held notions of radical xenophobia in regional specific Reality programming. Although run-em, gun-em Redmond and slingshot Wagner’s excellent polling show that such a theory may not exist at all. Lecturing pinch-hitters Peter Gainsford and Sashi Meanger will definitely come out swinging. Peter Andreae is a name that has resonated well with punters in other, more musical guises, Tony Schirato will be mixing it up left right and centre, and Psychology stalwart John McDowall will no doubt use his zen like understanding of human thought to fire a few shots. You’ve shown them to be the most popular lecturers in the university, now theonus is on them to go all the way.

We threw a couple of firecrackers in the mix ourselves. They may have missed the top ten, but they know their stuff. We’ve kept them in cages and fed them nothing, and Political Science’s Jon Johansson and Psychology’s Maryanne Garry will no doubt be chomping at the bit to take out a few of the showboating top ten.

So without further adieu, let’s begin. The first question, as an introduction, as a softener is this:

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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