The outstanding feature of most undergraduate discussion of war and armaments is the lack of specific knowledge which is displayed. Most men are possessed of a delightful store of generalities, some pertinent, some vague; but when pinned down to the hard facts with which to substantiate their ideas, they flounder hopelessly.
The debate between the University team and Yale on the armament question Friday night therefore is of unusual importance in that it will be a fruitful source for information that is carefully authenticated, pre-digested, and served up in most tempting style for the inert undergraduate. The men of both teams have been spending busy weeks preparing their arguments. They have sifted their facts thoroughly, eliminated the chaff, and dressed them up in the best possible garb. No speaker will make a point of showing the seamy side of his case; but hostile critics will come before and after; and the truths which escape unscathed will have a strong claim to validity. The difference between hearing a carefully prepared debate on a question and hearing a propagandist lecture on it is that the speaker in the latter case has no immediate check to his prejudice, and his statements need to be seasoned with many grains of salt.
Moreover, no one should forget that this year for the first time debating is an activity belonging solely to the College. Only undergraduates have been elegible for the team; and there has been an unprecedented response in the number of undergraduate candidates. Debating is not endowed; nor does it, like minor athletics, receive a subsidy for its maintenance. But besides financial support, a debating team, more than any other, needs the presence of a large and responsive audience to bring out its best, for it is to the audience that it aims to appeal.
For many reasons, then, undergraduates should reserve Friday night for the debate. If the communications which the CRIMSON has received in regard to the summer camps are a criterion, the subject is vitally interesting to students. Debating is now a purely College activity and is rising in favor. Finally, the team needs financial and especially moral support (by actual presence) if it is to wipe out the defeat received at New Haven last year.