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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1917

Free Discussion Club

page 51

Free Discussion Club.

"Syllabus governs the world."


The Free Discussion Club continues to be a vigorous and interesting part of Varsity life, its meetings being very well attended and its discussions lively. At its first meeting, March 30th, Professor Hunter opened the discussion on "Conscription of Clergy." Two conclusions emerged from his discussion (1) That under more ideal conditions a scheme of National Service would allow every individual to do the work best suited to him. (2) The Church, as every other Department of our national life had had to do, should organize its work to free more men. The discussion which followed chiefly centred round the position of the Catholic clergy.

The second meeting, held on April 13th, was valuable in that it brought before the students the need for University Reform. The subject was opened by Mr. Saker, who criticised the existing system of night-lectures and of examination.

Many spoke against the existing system, and particularly the external examinations were condemned, as unfair to the student. The opinion of the meeting was so in accord on this point that a sub-committee was set up to draft a report on the subject to be submitted to the following meeting.

On May 4th, the third meeting of the Club, the report was presented, Miss Duggan representing the sub-committee. It was decided to send the report as a resolution to the Students' Association to be brought before a special general meeting If passed, other Colleges were to be circularized with view to simultaneous action, and the report was to be passed on to the Professorial Board, the Board of Studies and the Senate.

The subject of discussion "Moral Effects of War" was opened by Miss Woodhouse who said that there were two extreme views, one altogether optimistic, claiming that bloodshed and the slaughter it entailed degrading to character, as well as depleting the nation of its best men. Two good results ought, however, to follow war :—(1) the encouragement of thought because of the creation of new problems : (2) effect of pain and suffering in betterment of character. From the discussion which followed, it appeared there was much to be said on both sides.

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Mr. Evans opened the fourth discussion of the year, on the question of the existing struggle between Capital and Labour. He thought that the three principles of economic society unable to be separated , were land, capital and labour. It was the ownership of land (property in the wide sense) that created the conflict between Capital one : that all property should belong to the State, every individual being employed and paid by the State. The Munition industry in Britain was quoted as an example of the success of such a method. The animated discussion which followed centred round the land issue and State ownership.

In accordance with the scheme drawn up by the Committee at the beginning of the year, when it was decided that several outside speakers should be invited to address the Free Discussion Club, Mr. Holland was asked, and kindly consented to give and address. There was a large attendance of students and others in the Gymnasium hall on May 25th, sixth meeting of he Club. His subject was "Fundamentals of Socialism," treated chiefly from historical and economic point of view. The social, legal, political and moral conditions of any country he held, depend on the way people earn their living, and on the environment, natural and economic, by which they are surrounded. Hence the need for improvement of environment, more particularly by better education and equality of opportunity for all classes in the community.

Some discussion followed at the end. A hearty vote of thanks was accorded to Mr. Holland for his interesting address, on motion of Professor Mackenzie, who had, in the unavoidable absence of Professor Hunter kindly consented to take the chair