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February 24, 2014 | by  | in Features Homepage |
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Sa·li·ent.

Sa·li·ent.

  [sey-lee-uhnt, seyl-yuhnt]

adjective

1. prominent or conspicuous: salient traits.

2. an organ of opinion at Victoria University; the uni magazine: that Salient magazine is pretty fucking cool

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Greetings, distinguished new readers, and congratulations on picking up your first copy of Salient magazine! We’re tremendously obliged. If you’re anything like me, you will have given the magazine a cursory flick-through before committing to a closer read, and you may have some questions. The more lascivious among you might be wondering, ‘Why is this unfit to wank to?’, while the pragmatic might be ruminating upon the potential efficacy of the magazine as toilet paper (a long-standing joke that has been made on pretty much a weekly basis since the magazine’s inception, by the way; avoid making it). To those questions I can offer no solutions, but before you consign the rag to a convenient bin, allow me to answer the most pressing question of all: ‘What the fuck is this Salient business, anyway?’

Salient is Victoria University’s student magazine, and it has a rich and established history. It all began in 1938, when a disgruntled student staged a coup against the student magazine of the time, ‘Smud’, due to its perceived conservative nature. He was successful, and thus ‘Salient’ was born – the title chosen partly because it’s grandiose and snappy, and partly, I imagine, as a dig at the asininities that defined its forerunner. Since then, it’s been published on a weekly basis, although the magazine went through many changes in the years that would follow (‘Salient: now with less xenophobia!’). For example, in Salient’s early years it was a five-page little publication in the newspaper format – a far cry from the rather more voluminous tome you’re presently holding.

Some things, however, have remained consistent throughout Salient’s 77 years. The magazine as a matter of course generally leans more towards the left wing in ideological matters – unsurprising given its demographic – although right-wing columnists and writers are always allotted a voice, which refreshes the palette somewhat. While I know I run the risk of circle-jerking one cock too many, Salient also has a history of helping produce illustrious members of society – previous editors include Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Toby Manhire, Derek Freeman and Elle Hunt, and previous contributors include Michele A’Court, Michael King and Sue Kedgley. Not that their jaunt was a mere foray into greatness, but more on that later.

Salient has a history of living up to its ethos as an ‘organ of student opinion’. Brace yourselves for a pulping by the cliché train: Salient magazine is run by students, for students, and that’s something that’s vital not just to students but to overall discourse (shit; Salient is, at present, Wellington’s longest-running magazine). Student media is in a cool place where it doesn’t have the restrictions that are placed on mainstream media, but can also afford to tackle big issues in a contrary way to the vitriol and partisan opinion-pieces that seem to dominate most publications. That does not make us sycophantic to students. Au contraire, there’s a noted history of challenging them – but the focus is on issues that affect them.

Perhaps the most consistent attribute of Salient is its flexibility. Though the central ethos remains the same, the magazine changes drastically year after year in the details. It’s an adaptable beast that changes with its student populace and the context of its production, and even its principles are loose and akin to change. Put it this way: no two years bear exact resemblance to one another, and that malleability is something pretty special.

All these elements ensure that Salient represents something vital to your student community. Long after the naughty thrill of reading the words ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ in a ‘professional’ publication has dissipated, you’ll hopefully come to appreciate the raw way in which Salient gets angry and argumentative on your behalf. It’s easy to get disillusioned with your place in the University – VUWSA, though I’m assured they do great work, operate mostly behind the scenes, while Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors and Deans seem to be elected based on their advancing decrepitude and how little of a fig they care about student’s wellbeing. Here in Salient’s burrow-cum-Sauron’s-tower we’re not exactly known for being generous with our coffee but otherwise we’re okay, and I predict our relationship will be fruitful and symbiotic. Just stay the hell away from our goddamn plunger, y’mongrel.

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1938: A.H. “Bonk” Scotney founds Salient.

1952: Salient publishes a poem lampooning the ‘Red Scare’; is reprimanded by Vice-Chancellor and sanctimonious letter-writers.

1963: Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the future Labour Prime Minister, laments the disadvantageous effects of higher education on a woman’s “femininity”; attempts to rectify the situation by introducing a ‘Girl of the Week’ to the magazine.

1973: Editor Roger Steele publishes US Army instructions on how to make a bomb.

1992: Feature Writer pens a scathing critique of Christianity. The letter section erupts with implorations that the writer “get his soul saved”. Salient does not know whether his soul was recovered at this time.

1995: Editor Vic Waghorn is ‘dismissed’ following an investigation into her conduct. In retaliation, she amends her final cover to include a cartoon depiction of cunnilingus. U GO GIRL.

1997: For the first time in the magazine’s history, an issue doesn’t make it to print fast enough. Crushing shame befalls all involved.

2005: Salient attempts to publish information discovered in a leaked document that suggests University fees would rise by about ten per cent. The Vice-Chancellor manages to get an injunction, but it’s too little too late – though Salient recalls the magazines detailing the document, other student magazines publish the magazine and an uproar happens anyway. Salient returns the leaked documents to the Vice-Chancellor, but not before drawing erect dicks on the document first. Classic gag, team!

2007: The very compassionate writer Lindsay Perigo writes a diatribe entitled ‘Death to Islamofascism’ in which he endorses sodomising Muslim people without their consent and describes Islam as “stinking and stupid”, proving that walking pieces of shit manage to infiltrate student magazines sometimes too.

2009: The infamous Lundy 500 incident. Then-editor Jackson Wood invites teams of vehicles to travel from Petone to Palmerston North, as, according to the prosecution at his 2002 trial, convicted double-murderer Mark Lundy had done in 2000 before murdering wife Christine and daughter Amber, in a valiant but perhaps misguided attempt to encourage people to “think critically about the [New Zealand] justice system”. After generating sufficient backlash, Wood called the event off and apologised to Lundy family members, but not before Salient’s social presence was propelled exponentially. COINCIDENCE?

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