The Golden Age of the Literary Societies 375
they also furnished needed social recreation. Beginning with 1924 the
Societies lost the privilege of celebrating the day of the anniversary of
their founding, February 14, but were given a place for their debate
and orations on the first day of registration for the spring term,
February 3, a day with no sentimental appeal for the Societies. Again,
it was on a Monday, the first day of registration, when not half the
students were present. In 1925 only one-half day was given to the
Societies. In 1926, other features were added, and reduced the interest
in the debate and orations of the Societies. The President made a
report of the progress of the College, and an invited orator furnished
the chief attraction. After a few years of such a program, interest in
the Society events dwindled still further; only a score or two score at
most attended the debates, an audience too small for Memorial Hall,
so that the debates were held in the hall of one or the other of the
Literary Societies. In 1925 it was sought to give the debates a partisan
interest by pitting Society against Society, the debaters on the
affirmative being from one Society and those on the negative from the
other; but this was without avail. In fact, it was no longer the old
Anniversary that was being celebrated. The debaters no longer made
any special preparation; in some years they were not chosen until two
weeks before the debate; and the question chosen for debate was often
one that had been used perhaps a hundred times already the past
season in high school debate contests and in intercollegiate debates.9
The speeches of the orators were often those they had used in other
contests. With the change of date of the celebration, the social
receptions, which for many years had been college rather than society
functions, were discontinued. Nothing has taken their place, the result
being that only members of the fraternities find at the College
provision for social life and recreation. Beginning with 1935 four
orators, two from each Society, have competed for a medal in this
mid-year event. They also often use speeches which they have used
before.
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9
Old Gold and Black, January 13,
1910.
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