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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review October 1914

Debating Society Urquent Rustice Sane

page 33

Debating Society Urquent Rustice Sane

Sketch of academic shouting

At a time like the present, when the immediate welfare and the future destiny of the Empire are at stake, the decision of the, Debating Society to discontinue its programme of debates will meet with general approval. Many of the members are with the Expeditionary Forces, and there is a tendency towards a lack of interest among those remaining. The Plunket Medal Competition, too, has been indefinitely postponed. On reviewing what the Society has actually accomplished during this year, one must feel satisfied that much improvement has been made interest in debate has been stimulated, and a high standard of speaking has been attained. The Joynt Challenge Scroll once again adorns the portals of Victoria University College. Long may it there remain. On 20th June, Mr. It A. Cunningham moved: "That the New Zealand Government should vigorously embark upon an extensive system of immigation." Mr. C. F. Atmore supported, and the motion was opposed by Mr. G. G. G. Watson, M.A., LL.B., and Miss North. Statistics were the weapons of warfare, and so no heads were cracked. Still one Celt told us of the "fertility" of one country going to make up the "sterility" of another. There was no lack of bandying of words', but even the carrying of the motion will probably have little effect upon the future policy of the Government of New Zealand. Our thanks are due to Mr. P. Levi, M.A., for judging the merits of the speeches. He placed the first five speakers as follows:—Miss North, Messrs. Moss, Cunningham, Watson, and Byrne.

The debate on "University Reform" was nearer home. The movers, Messrs. J. C. McDowall, B.Sc., and W. F. Hogg, showed that they were well acquainted with the needs and shortcomings of our University system. The lady opposers, Misses North and Tolley, M.A., like all good politicians, were ready to com page 34 promise. They urged reform in some matters which were essential to the improved training of a University career. They were prepared to grant better libraries and to economise finance, but they plainly told their opponents and the world in general that University professors should be compelled to devote their energies entirely to the academical side of University administration, and leave the business affairs to men of commercial training. "Ne sutor supra crepidam." A two to one majority holds out much hope for the glorious band of "Reformers." No less interesting were the remarks of Mr. J. A. Hanan, M.P. It is to be hoped that his audience profited by his advice as to "getting on" with those whom Providence "might join" for "good or ill." The first five speakers were placed as follows:—Messrs. A. B. Sievwright, L. M. Moss, J. P. McDowall, W. F. Hogg, and Miss E. M. North.

Perhaps one of the keenest debates held at Victoria College for some time past was one "That State Control is a Solution of the Liquor Problem." Messrs. A. B. Sievwright and A. E Caddick, M.A., were the movers, and Messrs. W. J. McEldowney and L. M. Moss, B.A., opposed. As supporters of temperance reform, the movers regretted that during two decades of No License and Prohibition agitation, no real temperance progress had been made in New Zealand. The amount of liquor consumed per head had in that time increased 25 per cent., and the convictions for drunkenness had nearly doubled. It was high time that the electors of the Dominion had a chance of trying a new plan, and that plan would be found in some form of State Control or in placing the trade under a Board of Commissioners, as had been suggested by the Hon. A. L. Herdman in Parliament. The opposers were up in arms. They wanted to turn the tip off altogether. They wanted Prohibition. State Control had not operated with absolute success where it had been tried. The storm of debate raged with a vengeance, and even Mr. Atmore's "little joke" did not stem the tide. The battle of Waterloo wasn't in it. The intimacy of certain students with some well-known taverns was a feature of the debate, and one speaker was able to give expert evidence of the shortcomings of a few establishments under the present system. A few of the speakers had a troublesome time. Did the mover use unparliamentary language? Did he tell a rude interjector to "shut up"? However, he withdrew, and peace reigned while he poured forth his eloquence in deadly seriousness in support of "my scheme." This was truly a fitting debate to conclude a year of earnest endeavour. Some sixteen speakers gave their page 35 views on this all-important subject. The judge, Mr. C. E. Statham, M.P., placed the first five speakers thus:—Messrs. L. M. Moss, A. B. Sievwright, W.J. McEldowney, Schmidt, and A. E. Caddick.

During the two short vacations, various plays have been read. A series of readings are being arranged for the summer vacation. This has proved itself to be an excellent way of maintaining interest in the Society in the "off" season, and it is to be hoped that the large audiences of the past will be present in force. Ample notice will be given.

In the middle of July, our President, Professor Easterfield, delivered his annual address. His subject was "Some Reminiscences," and the Professor gave a brief survey of his experiences of English and European Universities, and also touched upon the events which led up to the time of his appointment to the staff of our College as one of its first professors. He detailed a short history of Victoria University College, and appealed to his audience to endeavour to make for it an honoured place in the story of the development of New Zealand. A hearty vote of thanks to Professor Easterfield was carried by acclamation.

Our congratulations are due to Mr. L. M. Moss, B.A., the winner of the Union Prize for 1914. Mr. Moss is a comparatively young speaker, and has made much improvement during the past year. He has been chosen, with Mr. P. B. Broad, LL.B., to represent Victoria University College at the University Tournament, to be held at Auckland next Easter. We hope that they will maintain the fine traditions of the representatives of Victoria College in their efforts to retain the Joynt Challenge Scroll. Our best wishes are with them in this endeavour.

Messrs. Cunningham and Schmidt also deserve congratulations on sharing the New Speaker's Prize. They have both made marked progress.