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Tom Marshall's The Burro '03


THE Philomathean Literary Society is the oldest, as well as the most representative, of the student organizations of the University of Arizona. The exact date of its beginning is not recorded, but there is evidence that it was in existence as early as the year 1895. The first meeting of which we now have a record, however, occurred on January 14, 1898, and, as the minutes show that a constitution was adopted at that meeting, we may infer that the society was reorganized then and became essentially the Philomathean that we now know. At that time it was the only literary society of the University, and was open to all members in good standing. At the beginning of the present year the membership was limited to college students; but this provision was later changed so as to admit fourth preparatory students as well.

The Philomathean Society has passed through many changes. There have been times when but few responded to the roll call. But notwithstanding these discouraging periods, the society has known much success. Each time its waning strength has been revived until at the present time there is no doubt that it will live on and fulfill the object for which it was established -- to increase the proficiency of its members in literary work, and to promote their social welfare.

The work of this year has done much to raise the standard of the society. Last year it sank to its lowest ebb, and may be said to have existed only in name. However, the society was not dead, only sleeping, and the spirit that had saved it before saved it again. Soon after the opening of school this year the remaining members of the society had a series of special business meetings and re-established it on a working basis. The former constitution was remodeled to suit the present needs, and a long list of new names was added to the roll, which had been greatly reduced by the year of inactivity. In the work of reorganization the old members had the hearty cooperation of Prof. Gorby and other members of the faculty. A new inducement for students to join was offered by Prof. Hall - the giving of credit for work done in the society as an equivalent for public rhetoricals.

The first regular meeting of the society was held on October 24th with Mr. Hollingshead in the chair as president, and Miss Gung'l as secretary. At this meeting an interesting literary and musical program was rendered to a large audience of students and townspeople, and throughout the year the meetings have continued with uniform success. The members began with a determined spirit, and the enthusiasm was quickened by the organization of a rival society, the University Club, as well as by the approaching debate with the Tempe Normal School. The inducements to work for the society's success were: To become proficient in debate, and thus secure a place on the debate with the Normal School; to make credits in the society rather than appear in the assembly and to secure general literary culture and social enjoyment. Most of the meetings have not been open to the public, but the programs have been as carefully prepared and as conscientiously rendered as if for open meetings. The arrangement of the programs has been in the hands of an able committee, and members were made to understand their duty to serve on the programs by a fine of twenty-five cents in case of failure to do so. This reduced the membership, somewhat, but the reduction merely helped to get rid of the chaff. The success of a society depends not so much upon the number of its members as upon the faithfulness and diligence with which they perform their duty.

The programs have consisted of recitations, original essays, speeches, music, addresses by members of the faculty, and both extemporaneous and carefully prepared debates. Prof. Gorby served as critic the first half of the year while Prof, Hall has served as critic during the latter half of the year, and they have not hesitated to improve the society by fully criticizing the program and by making good suggestions regarding the manner of conducting its work. The meetings have often been greatly lengthened by the discussion of modes of procedure, points of privilege, or by debate on some amendment to the constitution or by-laws. The members entered into these discussions heartily and in many cases with determined, though good-natured antagonism. The fiery debates over the time of meeting, membership, fines for nonattendance, and other points showed the real progress the society was making.

In December the growing rivalry between the University Club and the Philomathean Literary Society was heightened by a challenge from the University Club to a debate, the subject chosen by the joint committee of the societies being: "Resolved, That capital punishment should be maintained." As the time approached the excitement grew, and on the appointed day the Philomatheans raised their flag over the University and appeared in their colors-royal purple and white. The flag was protected by Mr. Scow who spent an hour near the top of the flagpole while the members of both societies contended below. At last the President settled the good-natured strife by taking charge of the flag. The debate took place or, January 12th, beginning at 8:50 in the evening. The applause was supplemented by original society songs from both sides. The question was defended by Messrs Hayes and Whipple of the Philomathean and refuted by Messrs Seitz and Ball of the University Club, the Board of Regents acting as judges, The Philomathean Society lost the debate by a vote of one to two; but her courage was undaunted, and her spirit was shown by a challenge the next week, which, however, was not accepted by the University Club. After this debate the Philomatheans thought that interest would be better kept up by meeting every Saturday night, instead of every other Friday as had been their custom previously, and this was accordingly arranged for.

The roll of the Philomathean Society for the school year of 1902-05 is as follows: Misses Byrd, Colton, Davis, Feldman, Gung'l, Holmesley, Meade, Moore, Prout, Robinson, Wood; Messrs Calderwood, Grable, Foster, J. Gamble, W. Gamble, J. W. Gebb, W. S. Gebb, Hadsell, Hayes, Hollingshead. Millington, K. Moore, R. Moore, Olney, Pierce, Scow, Stafford, Stanley, Whipple. The officers for the year have been:

Presidents, Messrs Hollingshead and Stafford, vice presidents, Mr. Pearce and Miss Wood: secretaries, Miss Gung'l, Messrs Calderwood and Hadsell; treasurer, Mr. Gebb and Miss Colton; critics, Profs, Hall and Gorby; sergeants-at-arms, Messrs. Stafford, Foster and Millington.

It is not strange that the names of none of the charter members of the Philomathean Literary Society appear on the present roll; but it is striking that the names of none of our present members are on the first recorded roll, that of 1897-98. This shows how the work of one set of students has been taken up find from the roll of 1897-98 that all the bright lights of the University honored it with their presence.

Most of the graduates of the University have been members, among them Miss Clara Fish and Mr. Mark Walker of the class of 1897, the entire classes of 1898. 1899, 1900 and 1901, and Misses Brown and Smith, and Messrs Blumenkranz, Haynes, Rielly and Wakefield of the class of 1902.

The minute-book shows that the society was very active in the school year of 1897-98. The meetings were held with' open doors and musical and literary programs rendered, and there were active discussions over business matters. It is interesting to note that Mr. Richmond made a motion to challenge the Hesperian Literary Society of the Tempe Norman School to a debate. The motion was carried but since I can find no further mention of the matter, I infer that the debate never took place. During that year Miss Flood, Mr. Guild, Mr. Gillett and Mr. Richmond seem to have been the most active members; but the programs show that the others were not lacking in enthusiasm.

The work was taken up at the beginning of the school year of 1898-99 where it had been dropped the year before and was carried on along the same lines. The roll shows the enlistment of many new members. A noteworthy event of the year was the buying of the Philomathean bulletin board on March 20th. At that year's commencement exercises the Philomathean gave an evening's entertainment which did the society great credit. The programme opened with a very pretty physical culture drill, which was followed by vocal and instrumental music, orations, assays and recitations.

The year's work for 1899-1900 was not so prosperous, but at commencement time there was a temporary revival, and a good literary evening was contributed to the commencement program. The next year the society regained some of its former spirit, which was shown by a motion to hold every other meeting with closed doors for the better transaction of business, and by a banquet, and by several receptions given by different members to the society. At commencement a play was given under the auspices of the Philomathean Society. The sum of sixty dollars profit was raised and placed in the Philomathean treasury; but unfortunately in the next year the society declined and at the end of the year a special meeting called for the purpose of disposing of the money rashly put it out of the control of the society, to the present disadvantage of our treasury.

The last meeting of the Philomatheans for the present year was held on April 4th, when an adjournment was made till October, 1903, at which time it is expected that the meetings will be resumed and a prosperous year entered upon.

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