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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1936. Volume 7. Number 10.

It All Comes Down To This: Debaters Are Mostly "Dead Marines"

It All Comes Down To This: Debaters Are Mostly "Dead Marines"

Dear "Smad,"—

I would like to express a few of my feeling about the Victoria University College Debating Club.

For over four years now I have been going along to debtes, hoping to hear something worth while and a little bit educative or instructive. I have heard very little but tomfoolery. There have been some very able speakers and an occasional well-chosen subject of debate, but very very rarely have I heard a speaker, speak as though he supported his side whole-heartedly or self-convincingly. And, indeed, very few of the speakers seem at all concerned to convince their audience that their side is the right one. No—the person they want to impress is the judge; and if there happens to be no judge the whole debate is a fiasco, with each speaker trying to outdo the other in being too, too funny or just "un peu" shocking.

And now I must tell you, that I do not blame these people for their foolish ways, for human nature is very frail. It is this system of point-getting that is at fault. It seems good to have a judge and to have points—but the Union prize should mean something more than that. And, too, can it be said that some debaters are so more by compulsion than by choice, simply because they wish to enter for the Plunket Medl Contest. And here we touch on another peculiar thing about this club. It is the happy hunting ground for would-be orators. Does it seem right that students should debate in order to orate? The two things are as far apart as the poles. Can the system be changed so what we can hear good orators in the Plunket Medal Contest and not good debaters? And oh, for the days when the debates meant something to debaters and audiences too!

[The above two letters were hele from last week.—ED.]

Yours etc.,

Sincerity Suits.