382 History of Wake Forest College
for the next day; another was that debating before less than the entire
Society dulled interest. Again, training in parliamentary procedure
and the conduct of democratic assemblies and the development of
powers of extemporary debate in discussion of policies were seriously
diminished when in the Saturday morning meetings not more than
half the members could be seated.
This danger of the Societies' having more members than they could
serve was not unforeseen. In 1885 Dr. T. H. Pritchard14 had spoken of
it. The need for larger halls had led to the proposal to have a Society
building, mentioned above. It was hoped that in this each Society
might have two halls which could be used for debate, and which could
be thrown into one for business meetings. The proposition was also
made to have one or more additional societies. For one reason or
another, but chiefly from lack of leadership, all these plans came to
nought.
The deterioration of the work of the Societies became marked in the
years of the Great War and those immediately following. Writing in
the Wake Forest Student of November, 1917, student-editor J. A.
McKaughan, Jr., described the work as wretched. In the January,
1922, issue of the same periodical, editor J. R. Nelson called the
condition of the Societies deplorable. As a remedy Mr. Nelson
suggested optional attendance. Since 1907 it had been the rule of the
College that every student must become a member of one or the other
of the Societies; in recent years the faculty had reasserted and
emphasized it; no measures, however, had been taken for enabling the
Societies to put every member to work. The result was that many
became members reluctantly and paid their fees with protest and
hardly ever attended a session. A further result was that the faculty on
February 27, 1922, made Society membership optional.
Such was the situation when in June, 1922, the trustees legalized
fraternities at the College. The effects were immediate. There was a
great falling off in membership; many of the abler men no longer
joined the Societies, but became members of the fraternities. With
loss of membership the fees of the small number
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14 Biblical
Recorder.
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