376 History of Wake Forest College
SENIOR SPEAKINGS
In the calendar of the catalogue for 1869-70 appear the first notices
of senior speakings. Until the introduction of the debate in the
exercises of the Anniversary in February, 1872, there were four of
these in the year, one each in October and December of the fall term,
and one each in March and April of the spring term, but after 1872
there was only one in the spring term, in April. This arrangement
continued until June, 1889. In the year 1889-90 there was only one
senior speaking, that in October, and only one the next year. After
that, for some years the calendar contains no reference to senior
speakings; but they appear again in the calendar for the year 1900-
1901, one scheduled for December, the other for March, and accounts
of them begin to appear again in the Wake Forest Student. There was
no change until the calendar for the year 1914-15. On April 25, 1914,
the Societies had passed a joint resolution, declaring that the senior
speakings had proved more or less failures and asking that they be
abolished, which request the faculty granted.
So long as the classes were small, until 1880 or later, all members
of the senior class were expected to speak at all the senior speakings
of the year, although for good reasons the faculty excused a few from
the duty. Beginning with April 26, 1883, four original addresses were
required of every candidate for a degree, or in lieu of an address a
thesis of not less than 2,000 words might be substituted, provided that
the number of speakers on any occasion should not be less than 8 nor
more than 12. Soon after the number of speakers was reduced to six,
three being elected by each Society. Election as speaker was
considered an honor and a tribute to one's speaking ability. It was also
regarded as a privilege, for it often happened that it gave the student
elected his only opportunity during his college days to speak before a
public audience at Wake Forest. After a few years only those who did
not represent the Societies on Anniversary were chosen. The
requirement of theses of those who did not speak was soon
discontinued.
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