Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 14. July 21, 1971
[Letter fromJohn G. Blincoe]
I read with some incredubility the Obituary of the Debating Society in the last issue of Salient. While it was certainly a perceptive analysis of the grievous ills plaguing the Society, it was misleading in one important detail.
The Debating Society is Not Dead.
Whether the notice of death arose from a lack of integrity and scurrilous behaviour on Salient's part; or from an indecently hasty euthanistic desire to dispatch the Society; or was merely a justifiable mistake, I know not However, the Society is still alive and kicking, although it, is indeed suffering severely from "the distainful apathy... and ...spiritual and mental atrophy of the student masses" that you gave as the cause of death in your Obituary.
But be assured that the Debating Society has no intention of giving up the ghost in the immediate future.
In fact, there are indications that the Society still possesses a healthy instinct of survival. Earlier this year, for instance, we sent a 2-man team - Peter Butler and Hamish Hancock - on tour to the United States. Porbably the most formidable University debating combination in New Zealand, they debated 31 times in 20 states - all but twice against universities - and returned undefeated, earning New Zealand Universities and especially Victoria University an international debating reputation.
Later this month - the 23rd - we are holding Plunket Medal, an annual oratory contest for University speakers that has won much praise for its high standard.
A number of topical and provocative debates are also being organised. These include the classic annual Sex Debate, and religious and political debates with nationally known speakers taking part.
Some people allege that the Debating Society no longer serves any useful purpose in the University - that it ought to recognise that 'times have changed' and go under gracefully. But we believe that it is still relevant, despite the increasing number of forums of other kinds. For instance, being non-sectarian it can deliberately and impartially bring conflicting points of view together, as well as entertaining, and developing powers of verbal communication and mental agility. However, its success depends far more upon involved, alert participating audiences - somewhat scarce this year than upon the team members directly involved.
The Debating Society has its faults but essentially its success, indeed, its survival is in the hands of you, the members of the University.
John G. Blincoe,Secretary, V.U.W. Debating Society.