Debaters' Argument

Everyone is accustomed to seeing Harvard athletic teams near the bottom of the Ivy League, for, as the saying goes, this is not a school of athletes. But when the debating team in consistently near the cellar of the League and is overwhelmed by such schools, as Bates, Curry, and Joan Marshall, some other excuse must be found.

The cause of these defeats seems to be that this is the only Ivy League school at which debating is not a University sponsored (financed) activity. The Administration has traditionally held the attitude that it is best for students to be left alone in their extra-curricular affairs and to solve their own administrative and financial problems as much as possible. In most cases, this policy has worked wonderfully well, but it is becoming clear that there are some fields in which financial independence does not operate to the University's best interests. The Dean's office is aware of the problem in debating and has used its discretionary funds to keep the Debate Council alive. This solves immediate problems but not the long range one of raising debate standards to what they should be.

Expenses in debating involve caring for visiting teams, travelling around the Ivy League, and hiring a coach. For the past two years, the Council has sacrificed having a coach for a large debate schedule. By rights, the task of caring for visiting teams belongs to the Crimson Key, but that society does not have money for the job either. A coach is supplied to all the other Ivy League teams by the speech departments, but Harvard's speech department is not in a position to do anything but sympathize with the Debate Council.

This whole problem boils down simply to the traditional policy of a lack of emphasis on speech. If a member of the faculty could be assigned as the Debate Council's coach and given time to supervise all its debates, as is done in the other Ivy League schools, most of the debaters' problems would be solved. But until the university regards speech and debating that important, Harvard's team will stay near the Ivy League cellar.