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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 2. March 23, 1959

Votes of Thanks — To be or not..

Votes of Thanks

To be or not...

At various times, sociologists appraise certain institutions and customs in our society—our drinking habits, our passion for horse-racing, even our habits in public libraries—but there is one very widespread custom in New Zealand society of which a critical examination is long overdue—The Ubiquitous Vote of Thanks.

At first sight it may seem a very praiseworthy thing that at the conclusion of an address the chairman should call upon a member of the audience to express the general appreciation. And occasionally a speaker is able to perform this function gracefully, wittily and without taking too much time.

But how rare this is! Perhaps nine times out of ten we have to listen to something like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen: It has been a real privilege and pleasure to listen to the very able speech of Mr X... (glowing praise for a minute or so). There was one point which Mr X made which particularly interested me . . . (whereupon the speaker proceeds to commit the unpardonable sin—according to the etiquette books—of making a little speech of his own for three or four minutes). But, ladies and gentlemen, I am sure that you have enjoyed this address as much as I have and I ask you to express your appreciation in the customary manner."

And so, after many have listened with mingled boredom and embarrassment to this familiar rite, for the second time in five minutes (although this time with a certain note of artificiality) everyone claps their hands.

A Continental friend tells me that, to the best of his knowledge, this custom does not exist in Europe. He also says that it seems to him to be completely contrary to the British character to praise a speaker to his face in the fulsome manner which is usual.

But, whether or not this custom is known elsewhere, there is no need for us to adhere to it.

I think that the following procedure has a great deal to recommend it. After the audience has expressed the measure of its appreciation by the degree of applause at the end of the address, let the chairman say in a voice loud enough for all present to hear:

"Thank you very much, Mr X," and then (where appropriate) open the discussion.

Russell Price.

[Ed.: "Hear, hear."]