It’s been nearly five decades since the verbal sparring of two rival Emory & Henry College debate societies has filled Byars Hall on the E&H campus, but the re-establishment of the Calliopean Literary Society has reignited the rivalry that once existed with the Hermesian Literary Society, which itself was revitalized just two years ago.
Emory & Henry College was founded in era that placed great emphasis upon public speaking. In 1840 President Collins gave his support to the creation of the Calliopean Literary Society, the first of what eventually would become four literary societies on campus.
Debates were held weekly and took place in the original administration building. Within a year of the establishment of the Calliopean Literary Society, dissension emerged, and a group of the original Calliopeans withdrew to form the Hermesian Literary Society.
For the first time in decades the two societies held a debate on Tuesday, Dec. 9 in the Calliopean Room of historic Byars Hall, marking the return of the oldest tradition at Emory & Henry.
Having a rival to focus one's energy on is great fuel for achievement. Each member of the Hermesians is pushed to do just a little bit better than before because they know there is another Society that they don't want to fall behind.Jarrett Dunning Hermesian Literary Society President
The debate used what is known as a “Lincoln Douglas” format that runs just a little more than 30 minutes per topic.
I think what inspired us all the most in re-founding the Calliopean Literary Society was our desire to create something bigger than ourselves that could stand the test of time at Emory, and the ability to call ourselves the individuals that restored the greatest tradition in the history of our campus.Chase CrickenbergerCalliopean Literary Society President
The topics discussed included the U.S. role in Middle-East conflicts, the legality of the National Security Administration to collect phone records and government provided healthcare.
“One core mission of Emory & Henry is to foster self-discovery and open dialogue, and there is no better way to have both than to debate with those that disagree,” added Dunning.
Students competing in the first debate were:
Photo Caption: The Hermesian Literary Society at a previous debate.