The Old vs. the New (Vol. 1, Issue 9)
If any extra-curricular organization in the college has merited the cloak of tradition, it is the debating society. Formed practically simultaneously with the birth of the college, it set a precedent of victory in its initial contest which never yet has been broken.
Yet, in all the excitement that accompanied the phenomenal development of extra-curricula organizations last year the interested observer could not help but realize that the debating society was being carried along in the wake of the current enthusiasm rather than actually constituting its motivating force,
Small wonder! In the many hours every college student must pack into his abnormally crowded daily schedule, who can be expected to find time to concentrate on debates? At the least, doing research work for an inter-collegiate tussle involves a sacrifice of weeks. Surely, the toll is a large one to ask of even those who are most interested and talented in the forensic art.
For these reasons the steady decline of the debating society in the sphere of student activities seems inevitable to us. Students cannot be expected to make such sacrifices at the expense of their limited free hours and their studies. Therefore, we feel it will only be a matter of time before the few ardently interested in the cause of Inter-collegiate debating, will be stranded with the burden of continuing alone.
However, by simply changing the main purpose of the society from inter-collegiate debating to the discussion of vital collegiate topics within the school, the organization could again become the teeming center of student interest.
Pertinent institutional problems that are of interest to every student, could be discussed from both sides in spirited debates. Questions of policy in regard to courses, censorship of the Commentator, faculty supervision, the attitude of the Administration to vital Jewish problems—all could be extracted from the realm of secrecy and rumor and completely unmasked before the student body which should have a full insight into these and other issues that vitally concern them.
Such debates need no recourse to secondary sources. In addition, excellent opportunities for practice in informal debating will be afforded those students who have special talents in that field. But the greatest beneficiary of all will be the “forgotten student”. No longer will he be compelled to spend valuable evenings listening to long and involved dissertations on the armament problem or the Constitution. Instead, short and lively debates covering every aspect of issues that actually concern him will be the order of the day.