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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Number 2. 11th March 1976]

A Half-Blooded Debate

A Half-Blooded Debate


In an atmosphere reminiscent of an old war veterans home the first debate of Orientation week shuffled, coughed, staggered and generally fell into (for want of a better word) action.

The motion: 'That university is an anachronism'. If anachronism means lifeless and downright predictable, then that's a fair description of the debate. The arguments I suspect were hastily put together since I refuse to believe that a much higher standard could not have been reached.

The ingredient missing from this debate was sharpness of thought and wit. No that there was none mind you. There just wasn't enough to hold the audience's attention. The only thing they held were their lunches, newspapers and mouths. (Mostly in that order). Occasionally a retort would flash from between Roseveare's (first speaker against the motion) teeth, but even that was not enough to break a dull routine.

For the sake of completeness (and only for its sake) some of the arguments from each side: The affirmative claimed university was useless and nonfunctional, out of harmony with the present surroundings - a place where learning is done for its own sake.

'Even debating is an anachronism' announced Virginia Goldblatt (who swears she's a lecturer in the English Department). Well, it seems to me then that, since debating does take place outside the university, (a mutant form may be heard during Parliament sittings, that is, if it ever sits again), then the world is an anachronism? Please feel free to disagree.

Speaking against the motion John Roseveare argued that if university could not be an anachronism since it was founded by Government (but then so is the SIS!). He also stated that university perpetuates the middle classes, maintains the status quo.

The second speaker for the affirmative counter-argued by attempting to convince the audience that the status quo itself is an anachronism. Roseveare muttered something about dialectics, which raised a throaty response from a seemingly indifferent audience.

The last speaker against the motion suggested that the university must renew itself from the fruit of its intellectual labours if it is not be be an anachronism. Apart from that noble ivory-twoer ideal he did score a good point: that university is closely integrated with society.

The response from the audience when asked to decide the wineer was anaemic to say the least. Thus, the attempt to declare a winner was abandoned. The audience hardly seemed to notice the speakers leaving the platform. But perhaps it was just as well. You never know what could have happened if they had.