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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, June 1915

Debating Society

page 100

Debating Society

urquent rustice sane

This Society has felt the effect of the war more perhaps than any other club connected with the College, inasmuch as the great majority of those who have gone to the front from this College were either actual or prospective members; and for this reason there has been a marked decrease in the number of members, and with the decrease a corresponding waning of enthusiasm.

The first Ordinary Meeting of the Society was held on l0th April, the motion being—"That the attitude of the United States of America in the present international crisis is justifiable." keen interest was taken in the debate, and a large audience attended. Mr. A. G. George, seconded by Mr. L. A. Rogers, moved, and Messrs. W. J. McEldowney and J. P. Byrne opposed. On being put, the motion was declared lost by 14 votes to 9. The judge (Mr. H. F. von Haast) placed the following:—Mr. Watson, Mr. Sievwright, Mr. George, Mr. Matthews, and Mr. Cotter.

At the second meeting, on 8th May, the annual debate with the Social Democratic Party took place. The hall was crowded, and the large audience most enthusiastic. The motion was "That the progress of human society depends upon the triumph of Social Democracy." Messrs. P. Fraser and H. C. Holland spoke on behalf of the Socialists, and Messrs. Sievwright and McEldowney represented the Society. Mr. Fraser made a speech that impressed the audience, as a speech, when it represents the sincere convictions of the speaker, always must impress an audience. But it seemed to us that many page 101 of Mr. Fraser's premises were false. For instance, Mr. Fraser laid it down dogmatically that all evils (e.g., prostitution and disease) were the fruit of poverty, and he founded his argument upon that basis. This, of course, is demonstrably false. Prostitution is not born of poverty, but of the nature of man. Disease is not born of poverty alone, but can be assigned to many causes.

Mr. Sievwright made a very eloquent speech, that struck us as being at times a trifle irrelevant. The discussion of the attitude of the German Socialists was, we thought, beside the point. Mr. Holland made a very complete reply to Mr. Sievwright's argument. Mr. McEldowney delivered a very sound and closely reasoned argument—the most effective speech in opposition to the motion of the evening. A large number of the audience took part in the discussion. The Society is clearly doing right in arranging these annual meetings.

The third meeting was held on 29th May, the motion being "That Norman Angell's theory that political aggression is not conducive to the moral and material benefit of society, is unsound." The attendance was depressingly small. Mr. Byrne, seconded by Mr. Schmidt, moved; Mr. Meldrum and Mr. Foden opposed. Mr. Auton delivered the views of the audience. The judge (Mr. V. B. Willis) placed the following:—Mr. Byrne, Mr. Foden, Mr. Auton, Mr. Meldrum, and Mr. Schmidt.