The past year has been a most successful one in the history of Harvard debating; and, at its close, the prospects for next year seem exceptionally promising. During the year all the debating has been of a high standard, and important steps have been taken toward the better organization of debating work in the University.
The University Debates.
In the intercollegiate debates during the year, Harvard shared equal honors with Yale and Princeton, each university winning and losing one debate. The debate with Princeton in Sanders Theatre last fall was lost, but Yale was defeated by the University team at New Haven in the spring. In the last league debate, which was held at Princeton on May 18, Yale defeated Princeton.
The debate with Princeton--the first, University debate of the year--was held in Sanders Theatre on December 15, 1905. The subject, which was submitted by Harvard, was "Resolved, That intercollegiate football in America is a detriment rather than a benefit." Princeton chose to support the affirmative and was represented by K. M. McEwen '06, P. McClanahan '06, and T. S. Clark '08. The University team, which argued the negative, was made up of G. J. Hirsch '07, A. Fox 3L., and W. M. Shohl '06. A Tulin 3L. was originally chosen for the team, but as he was sick at the time of the debate, W. M. Shohl, the alternate, took his place. The Coolidge Prize of $100 for the best work in the trials, which was restricted to undergraduates for the first time this year, was awarded to G. J. Hirsch '07. R. W. Kelso 2L. coached the team. The presiding officer was Mr. L. D. Brandeis L.'77, of Boston, and the judges were Justice J. T. Blodgett of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, Mr. R. A. Woods of Boston, and Governor J. McLane of New Hampshire. They awarded the decision to Princeton, making a total of eight victories for Harvard and four for Princeton from the twelve debates held.
The sixteenth annual debate with Yale was held in Woolsey Hall at New Haven on March 30, 1906. The question, selected by Yale, was "Resolved, That it would be for the best interest of New York City to own its street railway system; the term 'street railway system' being taken to mean elevated, surface, and subway lines." A. H. Elder '07, G. W. Hinckley 3L., and A. P. Matthew 1L. represented the University and spoke on the affirmative side of the subject from choice. The Yale team, which defended the negative, was made up of E. H. Hart '07, J. N. Pierce 3D., and H. D. Smith 1D. The Coolidge Prize was won by A. H. Elder '07. R. T. Parke '98 coached the team. The presiding officer was Col. N. G. Osborn of New Haven, and the judges were Hon. M. E. Stone of New York, Rev. R. S. MacArthur, D.D., of New York, and Rev. J. M. Buckley, D.D., of Morristown, N. J. The decision was unanimously in favor of Harvard, making a total of 12 victories for Harvard and four for Yale from the 16 debates held.
The Interclass Debates.
The first debate in the interclass series between the Sophomores and Freshmen was held on December 11, 1905, on the subject, "Resolved, That the present policy of the administration towards San Domingo is justifiable." The Freshman team, which was made up of J. D. Cronin, I. Dimond, and G. C. Good, supported the affirmative; and E. R. Lewis, D. Rosenblum, and P. S. Butler, who represented the Sophomores, supported the negative side of the question. The Freshmen were coached by A. C. Blagden '06, and the Sophomores by E. M. Rabenold 2L. The decision was unanimous for the Sophomores.
The subject for the debate between the Seniors and Juniors on December 20, 1905, was "Resolved, That if it were possible, a reasonable property qualification for the exercise of the municipal franchise in the United States would be desirable." J. W. Plaisted, A. N. Holcombe, and J. W. Appel, Jr., spoke on the affirmative for the Seniors, and R. E. Gish, A. B. Church, and A. H. Elder, of the Junior class, defended the negative side of the question. G. Clark 3L. coached the Seniors and B. V. Kanaley 2L. trained the Juniors, to whom the decision was given.
The Pasteur Medal debate to decide the interclass championship was held between the Juniors and Sophomores on April 9. The subject, which was submitted, by the French Department, was "Resolved, That the French Government should adopt a scheme granting pensions to superannuated workmen." The Junior team, which was made up of E. B. Stern, A. Davis, and I. L. Sharfman, supported the affirmative; and G. I. Lewis, J. S. Davis, and B. M. Nussbaum, of the Sophomore class, spoke on the negative. B. V. Kanaley 2L. coached the Juniors and J. W. Plaisted 1L. coached the Sophomores. The judges decided in favor of the Juniors, who thereby won the class championship. The Pasteul Medal was awarded to A. Davis '07.
Council Secured Debating Headquarters.
As formerly, the University Debating Council has had general charge of debating in the University. E. M. Rabenold 2L. has been president of the Council during the past year; and, at the last meeting, M. C. Leckner '07 was elected president for next year. The Council has done very effective work. It began the year with a debt of $300, which it succeeded in paying off as well as arranging to start next year on a better financial basis than ever before. Most of the money was raised through the efforts of a committee, consisting of A. A. Ballantine 2L., A. C. Blagden '06, and M. C. Leckner '07.
The most important work done by the Council during the past year, however, was the securing from the Corporation the use of the upper floor in Dane Hall, for debating headquarters, which was largely due to the efforts of E. M. Rabenold 2L. The floor consists of three rooms--an assembly room, a library and reading room, and a committee room, which were opened on February 13. These rooms will also serve as a centre for all debating records, which are now being collected by E. R. Lewis '08.
Work of Debating Clubs.
Three clubs have held regular debates during the year--the University and Freshman Debating Clubs and the Forum. The work in the University club was conducted largely by informal discussion; in the Forum by team debates; and in the Freshman club by the usual camp system. Toward the close of the year, the Forum invited prominent men to address its meetings--and this plan will probably be extended next year.
Prospects for Next Year.
The prospects for next year seem very bright. The Council will begin work in its own headquarters, financially free, and with good debating material. The main work next year will be carried on by undergraduates, instead of by law school men as formerly; and the aim will be to arouse greater undergraduate enthusiasm and interest in debating.