The Spike: or, Victoria College Review 1912
[Review of the debating society]
Shaper of all sorts and sizes, great and small,
That stood along the floor and by the wall;
And some loquacious vessels were, and some
Listened perhaps, but never talked at all."
As the Plunket Medal Competition, the Women's Oratorical Contest, and the presidential Address are all reported elsewhere in the magazine, the report of our doing's this term is necessarily brief. There have been some exceptionally good debates, and some that might have been of a higher standard. The outstanding feature of the latter part of the year has been the persistent method in which Mr. Bates has dogged our footsteps with rain-making experiments—practically every debating night has been at least damp. This may account for the paucity of our auditors; whether that is the reason or not, it is certain that the audiences this term have been on most occasions exceedingly disappointing Even the members seem to lose interest in the Society in the second term. This is a problem which will have to be solved next year—probably by means of a better arrangement of the syllabus than in previous years. Of course, it should be pointed out that some ten or fifteen members are always keenly enthusiastic, and rarely miss a debate, so causing keen competition for both the Union Prize and the New Speaker's Prize. But we do want more of our members to take a keener interest in the meetings—to come themselves, and bring others to form a larger audience.
One of the most entertaining meetings of the year was the irregular debate in the short vacation, when Miss Coad and Mr. Jackson hurled at each other the respective merits and demerits of separate University Colleges for men and women. Needless to say, the "Separationists" were routed with considerable discomfiture. The debate was characterised by most daring statements on the part of the would-be reformer as to the effects of the feminine element in the College; personalities of a somewhat pertinent nature were by no means lacking.page 62
The Presidential Address, which was set down for July 27th, was, owing to the abominable state of the weather, postponed until Friday, September 27th. The substance of Mr. Ward's interesting address is published on another page.
On August 10th a debate was held on the motion, "That the time is now opportune for the federation of New Zealand with Australia," moved by Mr. Seaton, and opposed by Mr. A. B. Sievwright. After a discussion, in which all the old arguments pro and con, and not a few quite original ones, were brought to light, the judge, Mr. H. H. Ostler, LL.B., placed the best speakers in the following order:—Mr. Watson, 1; Mr. Burbidge, 2; Mr. Stevenson, 3; Mr. Hall-john, 4; Mr. McEldowney, 5.
The next debate, on September 7th, was of a striking nature, Mr. Quilliam moving, "That the measures adopted in suppressing the recent strike in Queensland were such as can and should be adopted in New Zealand under similar circumstances." This was seconded by Mr. Treadwell, and opposed by Messrs. Con Strack and McEldowney. The judge, Mr. J. A. Halan, M.P., gave the Society some exceedingly useful hints on oratory. His judgment resulted as follows :—Mr. McEldowney, 1; Mr. Cornish, 2; Mr. Watson, 3; Mr. Mazengarb, 4; Mr. Hall-Jones, 5.
Attention of members is drawn to the four debates which have been chosen for next year's syllabus.