Welcome to Georgetown!! And, more importantly, welcome to the Philodemic Debate Society. This year, we’re doing a countdown to the first debate—seven days of blogging devoted to introducing anyone interested in one of my favorite campus activities and its history. If you guys read this, not only will you be my favorite freshmen, but you’ll definitely understand all of our traditions and weird allusions. But, like every other newcomer before you, you will also learn the Philodemic’s nuances and history directly from an incredible group of upperclassmen. All we ask is that you come check out our debates at least once and see if you like them!
The Philodemic Society was founded in 1830 by Vice President of Georgetown Rev. Ryder S.J. (we love our Jesuits!). I’m proud to say that it’s one of the oldest student groups on campus and one of the nation’s first collegiate debate societies. Interestingly, it was also Georgetown’s first secular student group, a legacy that we dearly cherish and foster by welcoming students of all backgrounds and viewpoints. In fact, what I love most about the Philodemic is how much it has changed while retaining so much tradition.
The Society began as a gentleman’s debate group. The group would meet on weekday nights—usually two or three times a week—and argue. Many things have changed since then, but there are only a few really striking changes. First of all, women now make up a significant portion of the membership—otherwise I would not be writing this—and we only come together to debate on Thursday nights from 8 to 10 in Healy 208, the Philodemic Room. The Philodemic Room itself is also an awesome addition to our Society. On December 13th, 1881 Healy Hall was constructed and the stately room above Gaston Hall was reserved solely for the Philodemic Society. Even the President of Georgetown University had to schedule an appointment to use the room! I wish I could say that is still the case but, alas and alack, all good things must come to an end.
Lastly, I would be a negligent amanuensis (aka secretary or, affectionately, hand slave) if I did not mention our motto: “Eloquentiam Libertati Devinctam” or, Eloquence in the Defense of Liberty. In fact, if you have ever seen an email signed off “ELD”, you can immediately identify that person as a Philodemician!
Check in tomorrow to hear more about us! 🙂