Salient - An Organ of Student Opinion

Story by Chelsea Torrance

Museum and Heritage Studies, 2016

An Organ of Student Opinion?

Victoria University’s Student Union Complex is home to some of the most vibrant and exciting facets of creative life on campus. Tucked away on the second floor reside the legendary Salient offices.

Salient, Victoria University’s student magazine, is integral to the creative expression of our student body.

Salient was established in 1938, and while it is not the first student publication at Victoria, the magazine is by far the most prolific.

The founding editor, A. H. “Bonk” Scotney, noted that Salient’s purpose was not to ‘narrate’ but rather to ‘comment upon’ the happenings on campus.

Since its early days, Salient has garnered a reputation for left-wing activism and commentary. Using its position as a student publication, Salient has ‘commented upon’ a variety of different happenings in the world, in Aotearoa New Zealand, and at home on campus.

A Voice for the Disaffected

By the time the 1970s came around, Salient had furthered its cause to give voice to the activist grumblings of a ‘disaffected’ student body.

The magazine was not afraid to push boundaries. In 1973, Salient went as far as providing students with a guide on how to pick locks and build bombs in a series titled ‘Demolitions and Engineering’.

In the late 1970s, Salient broadened its horizons, by commenting not only on student life, but also on academic matters.

The magazine continues to use its position to provoke and inspire debate on ‘salient’ issues of the day, acting in many ways, as the conscience of the University.

Salient Over Time

  • <p><em>Salient </em>31, no. 3 (1968)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>41, no. 18 (1978)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>44, no. 16 (1981)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>74, no. 20 (2011)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>75, no. 22 (2012)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>76, no. 16 (2013)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>76, no. 3 (2013)</p>
  • <p><em>Salient </em>79, no. 22 (2016)</p>

Famous Faces

From the thirty-third Prime Minister, Geoffrey Palmer, to the notorious Sir Bob Jones, Salient has seen a wide range of talent walk through its doors.

Palmer’s shocking lamentation on the lost femininity and dignity of the 1960s university woman caused quite a stir on campus. Salient responded by adding a ‘Girl of the Week’ feature.

Since its inception in 2003, Salient has been the recipient of the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA) Student Media Award for Best Publication four times.

Here in Wellington, Salient is the longest running magazine in the city, and is circulated widely throughout cafes in the CBD.

Lasting Creative Legacy

While Salient is perhaps best known for its controversies and shenanigans, the magazine serves as a vehicle for a wide range of creative forces on campus.

Along with a weekly print magazine, Salient also produces television segments, has its own radio show, and publishes articles online.

Salient has played host to some remarkable creative talents over the years. With each year, comes a freshly minted layout and design, reflecting the creative flair of the magazine’s new administration.

The magazine's cover designs are known for being bold and provocative, brightening up communal areas and lecture theatres on campus.

Their offices may be tucked away in the depths of the Student Union Complex, but Salient ‘an organ of student opinion at Victoria’ as it was once known, is an essential part of the Victoria University student experience.

Love them or hate them, Victoria just wouldn’t be the same without Salient.

Salient Office

Student Union Building, Kelburn, Wellington 6012, New Zealand