By scoring a unanimous decision in their debate with Yale at New Haven, and losing to Princeton 2 to 1 in Sanders Theatre, the University broke even in the Triangular Debate with Yale and Princeton on the subject "Resolved, that limitation of enrolment of undergraduates in American colleges and universities by means other than raising the standards of scholastic attainment is justifiable." In each instance the visiting team supporting the affirmative was victorious, Yale scoring a unanimous victory over Princeton at Princeton. The total vote of the judges shows Harvard with 4, Yale 3, and Princeton 2 votes.
After the ballots had been counted and the decision rendered in the debate in Sanders Theatre, Hon. F. G. Allen, President of the Masachusetts Senate, announced Paul Whitcomb Williams, of New Bedford, as winner of the Coolidge Debating Prize of $100 awarded annually to the best University speaker in the trial debates for the Triangular contest.
Mr. Allen, who was the Chairman of the evening, introduced J. B. Darby of Princeton as the first speaker for the affirmative after a brief preliminary address and reading of the question. Darby made it clear in the beginning that the affirmative agreed with the negative in two respects; first that limitation of enrolment was necessary, and second that they recognized that scholastic attainments were the preliminary test. "But we don't want grinds and bookworms," said Darby, "but leaders with personality and initiative, and a single scholastic standard is no criterion of the worth of men who possess these characteristics. Don't put the whole system of education in a threehour examination straightjacket," he concluded.
The first speaker for the negative, W. D. Morton '27, emphasized that success in the field of concentration presages later success in life, and quoted to show that the chances were 300 percent greater for late success if men had high schol- astic attainments. "It is necessary to use learned methods to select those who will be our leaders," he concluded.
C. A. Capen was the second speaker for the affirmative, and he maintained that the attempt of the negative to apply to human beings purely mechanical standards was impossible. "We should view the applicant from all angles," he said, "and institute the broadest possible standard. We can do this with a psychological test or an intelligence test, which will test a candidate's retentive mind, ability to think constructively, and his will to do it."
Morton Arnold '25, speaking next for the negative said: "These methods such as psychological and intelligence tests would tend to blurr and obscure the whole system of scholastic education. What would be the result? The secondary schools would immediately see the utter folly of trying to train pupils to pass other than scholastic tests." Arnold summed up his argument admirably when he said: "We believe in selecting for colleges those men who have proved to be intellectual leaders in the secondary schools."
Carl Kopf was the final speaker for the affirmative. After reviewing his colleagues' argument, he pointed out that we are a progressive race, and that the single standard of scholastic attainments as a requirement for admission was outgrown. "Do you not feel that a student who gives a portion of his time to activities such as debating and journalism should be accorded due consideration if his grades were a bit lower than those of another candidate who concentrated on studies alone?" he said. "I advocate no universal plan but let each college work out its own individual plan."
The closing speaker, P. W. Williams '25, was easily the most brilliant speaker of the evening. In replying to the argument of the preceding speaker that a test for character was also an essential requisite for admission to college. Williams said, "By character they mean application, industry, and effort. The examination system is the best test of character as it is properly defined for it requires these essential qualities. By intelligence tests they attempt to estimate a candidate's promise, but in view of the fact that a man's character does not change in a day, the best test of what a man will do in college is what he has done in preparatory school. There is an evil of wrong emphasis evidenced by the fact that scholarship is divorced from college which their nonscholastic system fails to correct, and which ours remedies by abandoning an arbitrary standard, and by raising the standard placing the students in our preparatory schools in an intellectual competition."
An effective rebuttal by J. B. Darby which dwelt on the fact that the personality of the applicant must be considered was in a large measure responsible for the decision in favor of Princeotn. "If you consider other attainments--if you consider character and personality--if you consider any of these things--then you must vote for the affirmative," he concluded