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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, June 1913

Debating Society

page 55

Debating Society

Urquent Rustice Sane.

"With some speakers appropriate language flows forth in such a rapid and unbroken stream that the charm of art is lost in its very perfection. With others the difficulties of expression are so painfully exhibited and so imperfectly overcome that we listen with feeling of apprehension and pity. But when the happy medium is attained —."

When it is attained it is the delight of a very select few. Certainly the weather is rarely kind on Saturday nights, but not less certainly are our audiences too small. Has it not been announced that there is a New Speakers' Prize, a Union Prize, and a Plunket Medal? Perhaps the syllabus appeared too soon, and frightened people. Can it be that the Secretary's gentle art fails to persuade? He has been heard to murmur "Wider interests . . .deeper feeling. . . truer appreciation of responsibilities. They must, I say they must, come to debates." The Society is happy in claiming about half-a-dozen new speakers. Here again its happiness is not in the numbers. This Society believes essentially in quality, and extends to promising youth a heart-felt welcome. Among habitués there is a regrettable lack of interest in the Union Prize. Perhaps that, too, is yet to come,

The Annual General Meeting was held on Wednesday, April 9th, with W. J. McEldowney, Vice-President, in the chair. The popular verdict seems to be that the meeting was not ''slow." That old friend, the "votes for new members" question, was again raised, and once again the presumptuous freshman was put in his place. The method of Easter representation was also under review, and debate waxed warm at times, but the majority proved staunch supporters of the old Victoria College ideals and ways.

The subject for the first debate, held on April 19th, was "That Ulster should be excluded from the operation of the page 56 Home Rule Bill." The motion was moved by D. S. Smith, seconded by W. Hogg, and opposed by R. H. Quilliam and J. Stevenson. The subject of the debate did not lend itself to any but serious treatment. The speeches, therefore, were all interesting; and at times even inspiring, but lacked the sparkle of repartee. Indeed, this term an atmosphere of deadly seriousness pervades nearly all debates at Victoria College, or has done so up to the present, at all events. No doubt the responsibility of making up for the lack of numbers weighs upon the minds of the debaters. The judge, Mr. Neave, placed the first five speakers in the following order :— Hogg, Burbidge, McConnell, Quilliam, and Aitken.

The next debate was that "New Zealand Anti-Gambling Legislation has failed to improve the social conditions of the community," moved by C. A. Treadwell and J. Stevenson, and opposed by H. H. Cornish and O. C. Mazengarb. Even at the beginning of the evening the audience was small. At the end it had dwindled to one-half of its original number. But perhaps it was just as well. Many people were thus spared the pain of hearing startling revelation of New Zealand's moral degeneracy and the state of New Zealand's anti-gambling legislation. The movers and opposers of this debate left very little argument unclaimed, but their followers nevertheless managed to present some very telling speeches. The following speakers were placed: —Cornish, Mazengarb, Borer, Sievwright, Treadwell and Quilliam—in that order.

The motion before the next meeting was "That it is desirable that an imperial Council be established for the purpose of controlling the foreign policy of the Empire." P. B. Broad and R. McConnell spoke for the motion, F. G. Hall-Jones and A. B. Sievwright opposed. Patriotism was the order of the night. All the speeches were stirring. Some were even impassioned. The judge placed the debaters thus :— Sievwright, Hall-Jones, Burbidge, Borer, Broad.

Among the general rules of the Society is one declaring that its aim shall be to promote the followship and mental culture of students, and another declaring that members shall have the privilege of introducing friends to any of the meeting of the Society. It is strictly in accordance with these rules that the Society is inaugurating a meeting for the public discussion of New Zealand's Naval Policy. The discussion will be led by Sir John Findlay, K. C., LL.D., Colonel Chaytor, and Professor Laby, who are recognized leading authorities on the subject. The discussion should be intensely interesting, in view of the fact that this question will be debated at the next session of page 57 Parliament, and we much regret that the necessity for going to press early prevents our including an account of this meeting in this number. In inaugurating this meeting the Debating Society is only following the lines of the wise policy advocated by the Hon. James Bryce, that of connection the life of the University more closely with general public interest.