Recent conferences between the University Debating Club and prominent graduate coaches of University teams make it probable that several important changes will be made this year in the system of debating. Although the present method of conducting University debates has worked successfully, it is still thought to be imperfect in several respects. The probable changes will come in the system of preliminary trials for debates, in the method of choosing judges, and in the work to be done by the second or alternate team. In all trials for University contests it is recommended that the men who have debated against Princeton or Yale be thereafter excused from the first trial of future University debates and make their first speech at the second trial. The other suggestions are contained in a letter to the University Debating Club from W. S. Youngman '95, who coached the team that met Yale this year.
He advises first that there be on the board of judges who are to select the team, at least one man who has been for sometime outside of the atmosphere of the University and has observed and studied the effectiveness of speakers in public life. The list of nominees for this board of judges should be submitted to the coach before the names are sent to the opposing college. The coach should then have the power to strike out any name from the list and to add any other. When the debate is not to be held in Cambridge and the list of candidates is sent to Harvard, the coach should always have the list submitted to him by the officers of the University Debating Club for the final choice. If he is a good coach, he will invariably consult the members of the team before making the selection of the three judges that are to decide the contest.
The coach should always be given three men in addition to the men selected for the first team, to be called as they are now, the second team. The coach should then have the power to replace any man or men originally chosen on the first team with a man or men from the second team. In this connection is mentioned Professor Baker's recent suggestion that the coach should have the power to name the man on the second team who shall have the honor of being called the "alternate."
With these additional powers, some of which may have already existed but have not been clearly defined, the coach would have to assume additional responsibilities. He should be made to bear the bulk of the blame for any error in the selection of the judges or for the use of a man on the team who has shown himself, in the course of training, to be unfit for the contest. Under the present system the coach is in danger of being blamed for shortcomings, on the part of the members of the team, which he cannot avoid.