Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 12. 1966.
Vic wins Joynt Scroll
Vic wins Joynt Scroll
Victoria again demonstrated rated its superiority in university debating by winning the Joynt Challenge Scroll for the 'third successive time, at the Universities' Arts Festival in Palmerston North. A completely new team from the previous occasions, comprising Cameron Rose, Steve Whitehouse and Gerard Curry, held the trophy. Victoria has now won in 24 of the 62 contests held since 1902.
In the first round of debates, held on the Sunday afternoon, Massey and Lincoln failed to qualify for the final round. The subject, "That Beardies Are Weirdies," was not a suitable choice and although Lincoln won the debate neither team came to grips with the topic. The UK universities team would have rejected such a topic, Jeremy Burford admitted, and he would have accorded the same treatment to "That Man Is Essentially An Animal," the subject for Canterbury and Otago. It was not surprising that the best debate of the afternoon came from Auckland and Victoria over "That Morality Proceeds From Fear." This was a subject that could be logically and sensibly argued and it was.
Auckland's chances were lost through the second speaker reading his otherwise well-prepared treatise on fear-produced morality and an over-indulgence in ad hominem argument which bordered on abuse, by the first and third speakers. Victoria did not combine as a team but produced sufficient argument to complement their better debating technique and win this first round encounter.
By coincidence of the ballot. Auckland again took the affirmative against Victoria, while Canterbury did likewise against Otago, in the final round on Monday night. The adjudicators, headed by Sir Matthew Oram, deplored the poor standard of debate in general, due mainly to the failure of the Canterbury-Otago debate to rise above the level of debate expected in the Universities. The feature of this debate, on the topic "That Security Must Override Justice" was the excellent reply of the Canterbury leader, N. McKenzie. This reply, with his good opening speech, gained him second equal and best marks of the evening. This debate also caused Sir Matthew to remark that it was impossible to prepare a satisfactory debate in 24 hours. This opinion was not shared by his fellow judges or vindicated by the Auckland-Victoria debate.
Victoria altered its speaking order in the final round with the result that each member's style favourably contrasted with that of his opponent. Auckland, in affirming "That The Franchise Should Be According to Intelligence," failed from the outset by choosing the less feasible of the two possible lines of attack. They plumped for a weighted system of voting: More votes for better qualifications, rather than a system of qualifying for the franchise by an intelligence test. The negative leader exploited this choice and also laid a solid basis for his remaining two speakers.
Whitehouse answered the reasoned but read speech of his opposite number with a strong denunciation of any statistical method of intelligence testing. In altering his natural humorous approach to the more serious style demanded in Joynt Scroll he earned top marks for the evening. After Auckland's shouting third speaker, whose ad hominem arguments and rude joke found little response from the audience, came the quiet and persuasive arguments of Curry. This contrasting of styles made a favourable impression and added to the measure of teamwork—a distinct feature of Victoria's case in this debate.
The relative standards of the two debates underlines the inability of too many university debaters to debate adequately with only 24 hours preparation. This arrangement is a true test of debating ability and Victoria speakers are at an advantage because of the strong emphasis on being able to speak on one's feet and the frequent occasions on which there is little preparation until the last minute in the local society. It was obvious that some speakers had little knowledge of the points of procedure, a lack that was lamentably shared by the chairman on too many occasions.
On the Sunday afternoon following the first round of debates an NZU team was chosen to meet the UK universities team of Jeremy Burford and Keith Ovenden, R. S. Simons (Otago), who toured Australia with the 1965 NZU team, and J. C. M. Rose (Victoria) were named for NZU. The decision to select the team on the basis of performance in the first round was unavoidable but unfortunate. Speakers had several weeks to prepare for this round but would only have about 24 hours for preparation for the test debate. In view of the marks of speakers in the second round (Whitehouse 1st. Rose and McKenzie 2nd equal) it would have been desirable to have been able to take both rounds into consideration.
Both teams in the test debate showed that 24 hours was sufficient time to prepare. The UK team surprised some members of the audience by treating "That This House Could Live Happily Under Communism" in a predominantly serious form. They did, however, demonstrate that they could handle such a topic seriously and with the same success that they have achieved with humorous subjects, even at the end of a strenuous 21-debate Australasian tour. The NZU team of Simon and Rose were not overshadowed and judges divided 2-1 in awarding the debate to the UK team, who were thereby undefeated in New Zealand.
While the majority of New Zealand university teams would be hard put to match them on a humorous topic the fact that this was their closest debate indicates that when it came to arguing logically, analytically and relevantly the honours were more even. The capacity crowd, overflowing the hall into the street, again demonstrated the popularity of the UK team. In contrast, it was disappointing to see such small audiences as those that attended the Joynt Scroll. It is evident again this year, as last year, that the host society will have to arrange their own publicity—Arts Festival Control treats everything equally in this respect and it isn't adequate, or sufficient.— Salient Correspondent.