The Golden Age of the Literary Societies 381
the southwest corner and the Philomathesians on the northwest
corner, which, while not so large and elegant as their former halls, are
adequate for their decreased membership since 1922. At the same
time the College repaired the furniture and provided new carpets in
compensation for the use of furniture and the Halls as classrooms
needed after the destructive fires just mentioned.
THE DECAY OF THE SOCIETIES
The Societies still offer valuable training for any who will take
advantage of it, but at present they minister to not more than fifteen
per cent of the students, and, as indicated above, are hardly more than
shadows of their former selves. Here some causes of the deterioration
are indicated.
The chief cause was that the College outgrew them. So long as the
enrollment of the College was not more than two hundred students,
each Society found it easy to include half of them in its discipline and
training; each hall would seat comfortably a hundred, not more. It was
utterly impossible to formulate rules of attendance that were
satisfactory for a larger number. The problem became more and more
difficult as the enrollment of students increased to more than 300 soon
after the turn of the century, to more than 500 about 1920. One
serious aspect of this was that at business meetings and elections the
lack of room shut out those who had a right to a voice. A still more
serious disadvantage was that the lack of room interfered with the
regular discipline and training of the members. Only a score at the
most could engage in debate in one evening session even though they
stayed beyond midnight, as they often did. With sections of twenty,
ten sections would have been required to take care of the 200
members, and under this arrangement the student would appear on the
program for debate regularly three times in the year. As a remedy
each Society, in January, 1896, resorted to the expedient of dividing
into two sections for the purposes of debate, one meeting on Friday
night, the other on some other night in the week. This had several
objections, one of which was that the midweek meeting often
interfered with the preparation of lessons
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