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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1926



On Monday evening the Allen Hall, Otago University, was filled by students and members of the public in honour of the Annual Debate for the Joynt Scroll.

The subject was, "That racial equality within the British Empire is a desirable end." The Judges were the Hon. C. E. Statham, M.P., the Rev. Tulloch Yuille, M.A., B.D., and Mr. H. E. Barraclough, LL.B., and the Mayor of Dunedin, Mr. H. L. Tapley, M.P., occupied the Chair.

The first debate was between Victoria, on whose behalf Mr. W. P. Rollings and Mr. R. M. Campbell affirmed the motion, and Otago, which was represented by Mr. A. H. McClintock and Miss M. Todhunter. Mr. Rollings was greeted with a volley of applause, which continued for some minutes, and was resumed shortly after the commencement of his speech. He explained that a large majority of the world's population, belonged to the coloured races, and the suggestion was that these peoples should eventually control their own destinies. A portion of the audience was seemingly convinced at this stage and evinced no particular keenness to hear further argument. Mr. Rollings's remarks closed, as they had opened, in vociferous applause. Mr. McClintock announced that his opponent had completely misconstrued the subject of the debate. Intermarriage was one of the necessary consequences of racial equality, and no attempt had been made to justify that. The speaker foreshadowed general chaos and confusion if ever a measure of racial equality was reached; he, too, was warmly applauded at various intervals throughout his address. Mr. Campbell met with a more appreciative reception than either of his predecessors, and had page 28 perforce to administer his gospel to his hearers in small acid doses, which were lavishly honeyed by the performers in the audience. The present state of relationships between the white man and his coloured brother was, like charity, twice cursed: it blighted both patron and patronised. The speaker intendeed to deal more particularly with the effect on the white man, the overlord. At just about this stage the chairman's bell added its vigorous tinkle to the general uproar, and after a brief attempt to overcome their combined effect, Mr. Campbell desisted. Miss Todhunter then rose silently in her place and gazed penetratingly upon the audience for some minutes. She proceeded to wind up the debate by a general criticism of her opponents, and announced her lack of faith in the coloured man's ability to reach the standard of the white man. The disintegration of the British Empire was also probable if the motion were approved of.

In opening the second debate, Mr. Leonard, of Auckland, placed himself in a judicious position near the dividing fence. All racial talents and characterists were to be employed in cooperation: nevertheless it was dangerous and ill-advised to give immediate enfranchisement. The white man's role as a ruler (which words could scarcely overpraise) was challenged, and India demanded self-government, in addition to good government. As risings might occur, costing millions of pounds to quell, it was advisable to commence a movement towards racial equality. Mr. Leonard concluded a well-managed speech with an effective quotation from Winston Churchill. Canterbury's first speaker, Mr. Haslam, indicted Mr. Leonard for evasion of the point. He pictured his opponents, in pursuance of their motion, entering into the bonds of matrimony with a Hottentot woman, and declared that the resultant offspring would be "a living chaos." In retort to an interjection, "Is there much water in the Avon now?" Mr. Haslam repeated the moss-covered reference to a certain painful disease of the brain. While Mr. Butler described the British Empire's unique position and responsibilities guardian of many a national welfare, the occupants of the back of the Hall returned to their genial task of enlivening the proceedings. The speaker declared that the average schoolboy—(prolonged and enthusiastic applause). There was a popular song, "Let the rest of the world go by "—(Audience much taken with said song). Canterbury owed a large debt to Mr. Brassington, who battled on bravely, facing fearful odds, and was perhaps of all the speakers the least perturbed by interjectors. lie implored his hearers not to pursue a will o' the wisp that would lead to the destruction of the British Empire. He too, foresaw a state of chaos where different races attempted to live in unison, as two separate codes of law would then be essential. In short, racial equality was a chimera.

The Judges as usual reserved their decision and retired to consider it. They returned in due course and stood in a dejected manner about the middle of the Hall while the chairman received the results by private messenger and announced them to the audience. Canterbury won the Joynt Scroll; Mr. N. A. Leonard was the best speaker.