A. A. GLEASON PROPOSES A PERMANENT HOME FOR THE DEBATING COUNCIL
WOULD ENCOURAGE AND PROMOTE EFFICIENCY OF COUNCIL
A proposal for a permanent home for the Harvard Debating, Council is contained in a letter received by the CRIMSON from A. A. Gleason '86, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Council. Mr. Gleason urges that the project be supported by the Corporation, the Board of Overseers, and the Faculty, to the end that the gift of a suitable building may be received. The text of the letter is as follows:
To the Editors of the Harvard CRIMSON:
"To Harvard Graduates who are interested in debating, it is good news to learn that the Harvard Debating Council has begun another year so auspiciously. It has arranged an interesting program for debating with other colleges and is making strenuous efforts to arouse greater interest among the students at Harvard in this highly important, though voluntary, course.
"These facts together with the excellent work which the Council has accomplished during the past few years, and the importance of the subject generally, would indicate that the Council deserves the hearty and active support of the Corporation, the Board of Overseers, the Faculty, and the Graduates, as well as the student body.
"Now the question has been asked often, "What can be done to promote the efficiency of the Council and encourage it in its work?" For several years the writer has given this question much time and thought, and during the past year, since his election by the Council to membership on its Advisory Board, he has conferred from time to time with other Graduates on this subject. After a careful survey of the field, we have come to the conclusion that the first requisite is a permanent home; a building devoted exclusively to the uses of the Council. This building should contain a well equipped library, or, as a former trustee of the Boston Public Library said, "an up-to-date literary and intellectual work-shop," with plenty of alcoves with desks for those preparing for debates, a hall large enough to accommodate a fair sized audience, a social room supplied with magazines and periodicals, particularly those devoted to debating and public speaking, and numerous small rooms for consultation, coaching and practice.
"A permanent home is one of the first essentials necessary to put any college organization on a firm and lasting basis. The esprit-de-corps of any society, college or otherwise, is greatly strengthened by a home which it can call its own. Such a building would not only aid the Council in its work but would be an effective drawing card for new members. It would constitute a club, social as well as useful.
Development of Reasoning
"It is hardly necessary to set forth in detail here all the reasons why students should select this voluntary course. Many of them are axiomatic and self-evident. Whatever else the purposes of a college education may be, one of them is to develop the reasoning powers of the student. To learn how to think, and to think accurately and rapidly, is one of the hardest tasks in the world, so says a writer on debating, while to expound the conclusions of one's thinking to an untrained audience so clearly that the audience understands the speaker's point of view, is one of the greatest accomplishments anyone can possess. Now practice in debating does just these things. There is no prescribed course so prolific of excellent and permanent results as a course in a debating society.
"Letters sent to many college men during the past few years relative to the part which practice in debating has played in their success in life, brought very interesting replies. They all said that their training and practice in debate had contributed more to their success than any prescribed course. One Graduate said that practice in debating had been of more benefit to him than all his courses put together. Every student is looking forward to a successful career. Colleges point with pride to graduates who have attained success and won distinction. The success of graduates always redounds to the credit and honor of their Alma Mater. How necessary it is therefore that all colleges should encourage and promote any course, voluntary or involuntary, prescribed or elective, which plays an important part in bringing success to its graduates.
"It is therefore respectfully submitted that in no better way can Harvard promote its own prestige as well as the welfare of each of its students than by erecting a permanent attractive home for its debaters. If the Corporation, the Board of Overseers and the Faculty will on all possible occasions talk up this project, in a short time some generous benefactor will add another ornamental, as well as useful, building to Harvard's wonderful equipment. Surely no building could be erected that would be of such practical benefit to Harvard as a permanent home for the Debating Council. Several graduates have already stated their willingness to donate books to the Council when a fire-proof building is erected for its use. Other suggestions for adding the Council will be presented later."