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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Communication.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

We invite all members of the University to contribute to this column, but we are not responsible for the sentiments expressed.

To the Editors of the Crimson:

We should like to explain the situation in regard to the proposed Intercollegiate Debating Union, since this is apparently misunderstood by some members of the Wendell Phillips Club. In order to form such a league it is necessary that one organization should take the initiative.

Inasmuch as the idea of the league was originated by one of the members of the New Harvard Union and perfected by consultation with the other members, and inasmuch as members of the Union took the pains to secure the cooperation of leading publications before announcing the plan, it seems the only natural and rational thing that the New Harvard Union should be the organization to take the initiative.

The Union considered that the best way to proceed would be to ask one debating society from each of the leading universities to join in the provisional formation of the league. The number of debating societies in the country is so large that to ask all to take part would be impracticable. Later, however, all these debating societies will be invited to connect themselves with the league and the Wendell Phillips Club will of course be in the number.

The writer of the communication in the CRIMSON of February 9, states that "when the Wendell Phillips Club started negotiations with Yale and Princeton, relative to intercollegiate debates, it invited the New Harvard Union to cooperate with it." This statement is misleading to say the least. The first three debates between Harvard and Yale were held between the Harvard and Yale Unions. The Wendell Phillips Club was at that time not in existence. The New Harvard Union is the direct descendant of the Harvard Union, and the men who formed it preferred to stay in the society rather than form a new society and thus lose the prestige in managing the Yale debates.

No attempt, however, has been made to monopolize this management, and the two societies, since the formation of the Wendell Phillips Club, have acted together amicably and on equal footing. In our opinion, this is the only possible arrangement; we desire no other, and any attempt by the other society to make it appear that they kindly allowed us a part, we depreciate as a very probable source of bad feeling.

The whole situation is simply this: Harvard has two debating societies and these will always act together when Harvard has debating contests with other universities, but these two societies are entirely independent and quite free to carry out, on their own responsibility, whatever plans they please, provided that these plans meet with no objection from the Faculty. If the Wendell Phillips Club originates and realizes some valuable idea, we shall not ask for a share in the credit for it. We ask the treatment from them. We desire that same the relations between the two societies should always be those of friendly and dignified rivalry.

MEMBERS NEW HARVARD UNION.

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