The Constitution



the Philodemic Society


Georgetown University

Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1830



Whereas all deliberative bodies should be properly organized and constituted, and should conduct their proceedings according to such rules as experience has shown to be best adopted to the end of deliberative bodies, we, the members of the Philodemic Debate Society of Georgetown [University], desiring to advance in ourselves the love and knowledge of the truth to make progess in eloquence, and wishing to safeguard by means of rules the will of the Assembly as to facilitate by them the expression of its deliberative sense, rather than to obstruct that expression or to restrain it unduly — do hereby adopt and solemnly agree to observe the following Constitution. (1901, 2005)


This Association commenced in the year of Our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, and the fifty-fourth of the Independence of the United States, is called the Philodemic Society, and professes to hold as the primary objects of its cultivation Eloquence and Liberty. (1851)


Section 1: Membership The Philodemic Society shall be composed of active, non-active, alumni and honorary members. (2004)

Section 2: Active Membership

[1] No one shall be admitted to active membership in this Society unless that person be an undergraduate at Georgetown University. (1903)

[2] Before being considered a candidate eligible for Active Membership, an undergraduate guest must meet the following requirements for membership: (2013) (a) Non-members must have spoken at a minimum number of debates. This number shall be set to three debates within one semester or four debates over multiple semesters, as recorded by the Membership Secretary. (1995, 1999, 2005) (b) Non-members must have attended at least one Speakers’ Workshop prior to becoming eligible for membership. Those who are already eligible for membership at the time of passage are exempt from this amendment. (2013) (c) Non-members shall be made aware of these requirements.
[3] The name of any candidate for Active Membership shall be read aloud by the Membership Secretary at every business meeting of the Society. (2004)

[4] Once a guest has satisfied the requirements stated in clause two, they shall be assigned a mentor. After completing said requirements they shall be invited to give said keynote address to the Society and be inducted into the Society before they have attended fifteen Debates following their fulfillment of all requirements for induction. They shall have been considered to attend any Debate at which they were present for a majority of the keynote speeches. (1995, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2016)

[5] The Mentor, as coordinated by the Membership Secretary and President, must speak with a guest eligible for membership in the Society about the History, Traditions and values of the Society, as well as provide such aid with the keynote address as shall be requested by the inductee. (1995, 2000, 2004, 2005)

[6] The inductee’s first keynote shall be delivered in opposition to an active member, who shall have priority in deciding which side of the debate’s Resolution to uphold. (1995, 2005)

[7] After the debate in which the inductee first delivers a keynote, and before any other official Society business is conducted, that person shall be inducted into the Society. (1995, 2005, 2013)

[8] Induction shall occur when, after speaking as a keynote orator, the following oath is taken: “I,___________ , desiring to advance in myself the love and knowledge of the Truth and to make progress in Eloquence, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully uphold my duties as a member of the Philodemic Society, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, By-laws, and Traditions of the Philodemic Society of Georgetown University.” (1851)

[9] Each new member on entering the Society shall, immediately upon taking the oath of the Society, pay into the hands of the Treasurer as designated within the By-laws. (1845, 1995)

[10] Immediately upon conclusion of the induction, the new member shall then be personally welcomed into the Society by those present. The society shall then sing the Alma Mater and the Fight Song. (1995,2004)

[11] “No one shall be an active member without signing the Membership Book, attending at least three debates each semester, and paying dues as defined by the By-Laws.” (1903, 1995, 2004, 2015)

[12] There shall be no demeaning or unbecoming actions inflicted upon anyone before, during, or after the induction process. (1995)

[13] This society shall not engage in discriminatory membership policies. (1995)

[14] The Society may, at its discretion, ask prospective members to prepare a report on the history of the Society, or some similar topic to be presented. These projects will not be assigned to individual inductees, but the Society may rather decide that for a month, or a semester, all of those invited to join will be asked to prepare such a request. The prospective member’s mentor shall judge her or him on this project. (1999)

[15] The rights of Active Membership shall be defined as: (a) Submitting one’s own name for a keynote address. (b) Voting at Grand Semi-Annual or Business meetings of the Society. (2004) (c) Attending, voting, and submitting constitutional amendments for consideration at a Grand Semi-Annual Meeting of the Society. (d) Standing for election to an office of this Society. (2013)

Section 3: Non-Active Membership

[1] Non-active members shall be defined as those undergraduates who have not signed the membership book or have not paid into the hands of the Treasurer as defined by the By-Laws. (2004)

[2] Non-active members shall be excluded from the exercise of the rights of Active Membership, as defined in Article II, Section 2. (2004, 2005)

Section 4: Alumni Membership

[1] The active membership of members shall come to a permanent end when they cease to be undergraduate students, and shall be suspended if and as long they are not of a college class. (1903, 2005)

[2] The resignation of a member shall not be accepted unless all pecuniary obligations owed by that member to the Society have been discharged. (1899)

[3] If any member leaves the Society, said member shall have to be once again admitted by the normal admission process. (1992)

[4] Alumni members shall be excluded from the exercise of the rights of Active Membership, as defined in Article II, Section 2. (2013)

Section 5: Honorary Membership

[1] All members may participate in discussions, but none but active members shall vote or be eligible for office. (1901)

[2] Honorary members may be elected at any Grand-Semi Annual Meeting of the Society, by a two-thirds vote of the members present. (1899, 2004, 2005)

[3] No one can become an honorary member of this Society — except for distinguished services rendered to this country, to literature, art, or science, to the Philodemic Society, or to Alma Mater Georgetown. (2015)

[4] Honorary members shall be excluded from the exercise of the rights of Active Membership, as defined in Article II, Section 2. (2013)


Section 1: Presentation

Every proposed amendment to this Constitution, By-laws, and Traditions must be presented in writing to the President no less than two weeks before the business meeting at which it is to be voted upon. The President must then present said amendment to all undergraduate members no less than one week before said meeting. (1899, 2004)

Section 2: Quorum Requirements

There shall be a required quorum only for those votes pertaining to the election of officers, the amendment of the Constitution or the alteration of the By-Laws. (2004)

Section 3: Alteration of Constitution

[1] No article in the Constitution shall be annulled or amended at any meeting except at either of two Grand Semi-Annual Meetings — which shall occur during the weekend following the end of classes for the term — unless the President, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the active members of the Society, calls a special meeting of the Society to amend the Constitution. (1851, 1989, 1995 2000, 2004)

[2] Any amendment to the Constitution or By-Laws of the Philodemic Society of Georgetown University which affects the right of an individual who has taken the Society’s oath to vote at a Grand-Semi Annual Meeting and/or affects such an individual’s right to be present at a Grand-Semi Annual Meeting shall not take effect until the closing of the Grand-Semi Annual Meeting at which it was adopted (2005).

[3] Any Active Member may propose an alteration of amendment to the Constitution. (2004, 2005)

[4] Two-thirds of all active members shall constitute a quorum for consideration at a Grand Semi-Annual Meeting of amendments to the Constitution. (1992, 2004, 2005)

[5] A three-fourths vote from all active members at a Grand Semi-Annual Meeting shall be required to adopt any amendments to the Constitution. (1989, 2004)

Section 4: Alteration of By-laws

[1] The active members shall have the power to pass By-Laws for the regulation and dispatch of business, and the promotion of general objects of the Society. (1851)

[2] The quorum requirements for the alteration of the By-Laws shall be the same as those for the amendment of the Constitution. (2004)

[3] It shall require a majority vote of the active members at a Grand-Semi Annual Meeting to suspend, alter, or amend any portion of the By-Laws. (1903, 2004, 2005)


Section 1: Elections

[1] The officers of this Society shall consist of a President, Vice-President, Membership Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, Amanuensis, Librarian and Chancellor and such other offices as the active members may find convenient or necessary to create. (1833, 2004)

[2] The quorum for the election of officers shall be one-half of the active members of the Society. (2004)

[3] The President and Corresponding Secretary shall be elected by a majority of a quorum at the Fall Grand Semi-Annual. (1989, 2004, 2005)

[4] The Vice-President, Membership Secretary, Amanuensis, Librarian, and Signifer shall be elected by a majority of a quorum at each Grand Semi-Annual. (1992, 2004, 2005, 2016)

[5] The Treasurer shall be elected by a majority of a quorum at the Spring Grand SemiAnnual. (1993, 2004, 2005)

[6] Such elections shall be held by ballot and a majority of the votes shall always be necessary to constitute a choice. (1851)

[7] In case, after the balloting there be no election, the two members who at the ballot unite the greatest majority, shall be announced for the chair the candidates to the exclusion of all others; and the one who shall receive the majority of votes shall be the person chose. (1851)

[8] Permanent vacancies by Officers shall be filled by this same manner of election. (1901)

[9] Further, there shall be appointed by the President those positions necessary for the particular welfare of the Society. (1851)

[10] All officers of the society, with the exception of Chancellor, shall take office upon taking the following oath: “I _______ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of ________, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, By-Laws, and Traditions of the Philodemic Society of Georgetown University. ” Such oath will be given at the Grand Semi-Annual Meeting or following the final debate of the semester in which the election took place, whichever is later, by the officer who first chaired the meeting, and by the presiding officer at any other meeting of the society. Completion of the oath will fully and finally terminate the term of the office’s previous holder. (2005, 2013)

[11] Any member who is studying abroad at the time of the Grand Semi-Annual meeting is allowed to run for all open officer positions. The member is allowed to submit a written statement under guidelines to be determined by the President.

Section 2: Restrictions upon Office-holding

[1] No member of this Society shall hold two offices at once, provided the number of active members be sufficient to fill all the offices. (1851)

[2] Any officer may be elected to fill another office; if that officer accepts the second, that officer ipso facto resigns the one formerly held, to which some other member must be elected. (1851)

[3] No officer shall be deprived of office for neglect of duty or failure to uphold the oath of office unless by the vote of two-thirds of the Active Members of the Society. Upon the written petition of at least one-third of the active members of the Society or upon the written petition of at least two thirds of the voting officers, the president may entertain a motion at a regularly-scheduled business meeting to deprive any officer but the president of office by recall. At least one week’s notice of the president’s intent to entertain such a motion shall be given to all undergraduate members, both active and non-active. The President shall instruct members that their consideration of depriving an officer of office by recall may only be made on the merits of the charge that said officer neglected the duty of office or the charge that said officer failed to uphold the oath of office, or both charges. The recall of an officer will result in a permanent vacancy of that office, which shall be filled by election at the next regularly-scheduled business meeting, pursuant to Article IV, Section 1, Subsection 8. (1851, 2004, 2013, 2015)

[4] The president shall not be deprived of office for neglect of duty or failure to uphold the oath of office unless by the vote of two-thirds of the Active Members of the Society. Upon the written petition of at least one-third of the active members of the Society or upon the written petition of at least two thirds of the voting officers, the vice president shall have the right to take the chair at the next regularly-scheduled business meeting and may entertain a motion to deprive the president of office by recall. At least one week’s notice of the vice president’s intent to entertain such a motion shall be given to all undergraduate members, both active and non-active. The Vice President shall instruct members that their consideration of depriving the president of office by recall may only be made on the merits of the charge that said officer neglected the duty of office or the charge that said officer failed to uphold the oath of office, or both charges. The recall of the president will result in a period of sede vacante, which shall be resolved by election at the next regularly-scheduled business meeting, pursuant to Article IV, Section 1, Subsection 8. During this vacancy or any other vacancy of the Office of President, the vice president shall serve as president. (2015)

[5] All officers shall, before leaving, deliver to the Chancellor or their successor all papers of the Society that belong to their office. (1901, 2005)


Section 1: The Moderator (to be chosen by members occasionally to serve ad hoc as, for example impartial judges of debates et al.)

[1] A Moderator may be elected from the Faculty by the active members and may attend all regular meetings. (1854, 2004)

[2] The Moderator shall represent the Society before the Faculty and administration. (1899)

[3] The Moderator may criticize the several performances of the members, such as Essays, Orations, and Debates; when necessary the Moderator may restrain all breaches of order; and also when necessary the Moderator may explain the rules of order. (1899, 2004, 2014)

[4] The Moderator may carefully preserve all the property of the Society; use all reasonable means to augment its resources; and, especially, cause its Debates to be conducted with order and regularity. (1899, 2004)

Section 2: The President

[1] It shall be the duty of the President to preside at all meetings of the Society. When unavoidably absent the different officers respectively shall preside in the order in which they are enumerated in this article. (1833)

[2] The President, or whoever is in the chair, shall preserve and, according to the judgment of the presiding officer, without debate or appeal, impose a fine, not to exceed fifty dollars, for disorder. (1901, 2005)

[3] The President shall sign all orders, acts, and other proceedings of the Society which are required to be authenticated. (1899)

[4] The presiding officer shall have the power of giving the casting vote at a debate when the votes taken are equally divided; and when unable to preserve order in the Society, the presiding officer is empowered to adjourn the meeting. (1851)

[5] The President may vote at a debate only to break a tie. (1860)

[6] The power of appointing all committees shall be vested in the President, unless otherwise delegated. (1899, 2005)

[7] The President shall appoint a Sergeant at-Arms to be promulgated by the second Debate of every semester. (1997) (2006)

[8] The President shall appoint a Signifer to be promulgated by the second Debate of every semester. (2013)

[9] The President shall appoint an Aedilis to be promulgated by the second Debate of every semester. (2015, 2016)

Section 3: The Vice-President

[1] It shall be the duty of the Vice-President to preside in the absence of the President. (1854)

[2] The Vice-President shall be charged with preserving the integrity of the floor debate, and as such shall have speaking precedence over any other speaker, excluding the President. (2004)

[3] The Vice-President shall be allowed to open all letters addressed to the members in behalf of the Society in the interval of the meeting. (1830)

Section 4: The Treasurer

[1] The Treasurer of this Society shall keep and possess a book in which an account of all fines, the persons fined, together with the causes for which they were fined, must be adequately given. (1830, 2004)

[2] The Treasurer shall keep an exact account of the funds and expenses of this Society and of the contributions and fines. (1854, 2004)

[3] The Treasurer must likewise collect all monies due to the Society. (1851, 2004)

[4] The Treasurer is requested to make a quarterly report of the receipts and expenditures of the Society, how and for what purpose the money was expended, and how much remained in hand at the time of reporting. (1851)

[5] The Treasurer shall also open an account with the Society in which shall be recorded every item of property received and disbursed, with date, source, and other minute particulars pertaining thereto. (1899)

[6] At the expiration of the term in office, the Treasurer shall deliver to the succeeding Treasurer, or to the Chancellor of the Society, all books, papers, monies, and other property, arranged in good order. (1901, 2004)

[7] The Treasurer shall collect dues and fines, disburse all monies as directed and only as directed by the Society; and, at the last regular meeting of the Society, report in writing on the state of the finances an account. (1901, 2005)

Section 5: Corresponding Secretary

[1] It shall be the duty of the Corresponding Secretary to address all such letters as the Society may direct. All correspondence shall, upon demand, be submitted to the Society. (1833, 2004)

[2] It shall further be the duty of the Corresponding Secretary to transmit to the Alumni Membership all communication from the President or the President’s designate. The Corresponding Secretary shall keep a copy of all such communication that shall be submitted at the conclusion of the Corresponding Secretary’s term to the Chancellor. (2000, 2004).

[3] Upon receiving instructions from the Society, the Corresponding Secretary shall write any letters within one week of receiving the instruction and keep copies of any correspondence. (1851)

[4] The Corresponding Secretary shall serve as the Society’s representative to the Alumni membership. (2000, 2004)

[5] The Corresponding Secretary shall organize and oversee all intercollegiate debates of the Philodemic Society (2006)

[6] The Corresponding Secretary shall be responsible for planning and conducting monthly community service events, with the aim of fostering closer ties between the Society and her community. (2016)

Section 6: The Membership Secretary

[1] The Membership Secretary of the Society must have in possession a book in which the rules of the Society, and the names of the undergraduate membership, must be legibly written. This officer shall also keep a list of the members which, at the direction of the President, must be read at the commencement of every sitting, mentioning those absent at last reading. (1830, 2004)

[2] The Secretary shall require each new member to sign a Membership Book. (1833, 2004)

[3] It shall be the duty of the Membership Secretary always to bring the Constitution and By-Laws to the debating hall. (1851)

[4] It shall further be the duty of the Membership Secretary to transmit to the Undergraduate Membership all communication from the President or the President’s designate. The Membership Secretary shall keep a copy of all such communication that shall be submitted at the conclusion of the Membership Secretary’s term to the Chancellor. (2004)

[5] The Membership Secretary shall maintain an up-to-date list of all non-members’ speeches and update it weekly following each debate. (2008, 2014)

Section 7: The Librarian

[1] The Librarian of the Society shall keep and administer a Library for the Society and may also procure books for said Library. In order to promote the use of the library, the Librarian shall open the library up to members and non-members on a regular basis for the purposes of studying, socializing, and borrowing library materials. (1998, 2004, 2012)

[2] The Librarian shall take regular pictures of the Society and keep an album of these photos. (2000)

[3] The Librarian shall be the faculty liaison, responsible for any relations with Georgetown Faculty. (2006)

[4] The Librarian shall be in charge of overseeing any academic events of Philodemic Society. (2006)

[5] The Librarian shall be in charge of composing and updating an accurate History of the Philodemic, which also contains all documents beneficial to induction and membership and shall make a quarterly report of the Librarian’s findings. It is the duty of the Librarian to make available a copy of The Philodemic History to current members, and nonmembers on the induction list. The Librarian will also be available to assist mentors in explaining the history and traditions of the Society to non-members, as the mentor and mentee so desire. (2006, 2012)

[6] The Librarian shall be given a budget for the procurement of books for said Library. (2008)

[7] The Librarian shall be responsible for creating and printing the weekly debate program. At the end of the Librarian’s term, the Librarian will print two copies of each week’s program. The Librarian will place one set of the programs in the Philodemic Library, and will file the other set of programs with the University Archivists. (2008, 2012)

Section 8: The Amanuensis

[1] The Amanuensis shall keep a Journal of the Society, recording the important proceedings of the Society in a fair and legible hand. This journal shall include the names of the several speakers, a brief description of their remarks and the outcome of the debate. (1851, 2004)

[2] The Amanuensis shall keep a blog recounting each debate held by the Society. (2014)

[3] Once a Journal of the Society has been filled, the Amanuensis shall archive it with print copies of each blog post pertaining to that Journal. (2014)

[4] The Amanuensis shall be the keeper of minutes for business meetings of the Society. (2004)

[5] The Amanuensis shall be in charge of collecting proposed topics in advance for consideration in a Business meeting. (2006)

[6] After each week’s debate, the Amanuensis shall convey in writing to the President and Membership Secretary the resolution, keynoters, non-member speeches, result and any induction within a day of the debate (2008, 2014)

[7] The Amanuensis shall be responsible for the publicity of the debates. (1989, 2008)

Section 9: The Chancellor

[1] The President, upon completion of term in office, shall become the Chancellor of the Society. (1989)

[2] The President’s term shall be considered complete upon serving as President from the time of election until the designated date has passed for the next Fall Grand-Semi Annual Meeting after the initial election. (2004)

[3] The Chancellor shall be responsible for overseeing the general well-being of the Society and shall act in an advisory capacity to the members and officers of the Society. (1989)

[4] The Chancellor shall insure the safety of the papers of the Society during the transition of officers. (1989) [5] The title of Chancellor shall be maintained for life upon graduation from the University. No duties or privileges shall accompany the title, except speaking privileges.

Section 10: The Sergeant-at-Arms

[1] The President shall appoint the sergeant at Arms, whose responsibility is to announce the President at the beginning of the debate, keep order in all meetings, and regulate the flow of traffic in and out of debates.

[2] The Sergeant at Arms shall have no other voting rights beyond those of a non-officer.

[3] The Sergeant at Arms will be responsible for wielding, within reason, the Mace of the Philodemic Society in the course of the constitutional duties of the Sergeant at Arms. (2011)

[4] It shall be the duty of the Sergeant-at-Arms, in coordination with the Vice President in the fall or Chancellor in the spring, to conduct at least four Speakers’ Workshops per semester. The primary goal of these Workshops shall be to foster competence in rhetoric, logic, and argumentation, especially in those members and non-members who do not regularly have the opportunity to speak on the Philodemic floor. (2013)

Section 11: The Signifer

[1] The Society shall elect a Signifer, whose responsibility is to bear the seal of the Society and produce, develop, and protect its visual and online identity. (2016)

[2] The Signifer shall assist all officers in producing external publications, ensuring that their production and design is befitting of the Society.

[3] The Signifer shall manage, develop, and protect the online presence of the Society.

Section 12: The Aedilis

[1] The President shall appoint the Aedilis, whose responsibility is to plan and implement social events for the Society, with the goal of promoting strong fellowship within the Society. (2015, 2016)

[2] The Aedilis shall have no other voting rights beyond those of a non-officer. (2016)


[1] The term “business meeting” shall apply to the Grand Semi-Annual meetings as well as those meetings for the setting of debate topics and keynoters as the President shall see fit to call. (2004)

[2] Business meetings shall be considered separate from debate meetings. (2004)

[3] Business meetings, other than the Grand-Semiannual meeting, shall be for the purpose of proposing resolutions for debate, assigning keynoters, assigning inductions and their dates, and discussion all business concerning the maintenance of the Philodemic Society. (2006)


Section 1:

Be it resolved that if at any time the Philodemic Society shall become extinct at this College, for want of active members or be dissolved by dissention or any other causes whatsoever, the library, funds, written laws and regulations, papers, stationary, and all other things appertaining to the Society, shall be held in trust until some other body organize, to which the library, funds, and all other things above mentioned, shall be delivered, Provided: First: that the body so organizing have all the qualifications Requisite for members by the laws. Second: that the body so organizing shall assume the name and motto of the Philodemic Society, and consent to be governed by its laws.

Section 2:

If a body should so organize, be it further resolved that the President of the University is hereby vested with the power of choosing from the faculty a fit person as presiding officer to said body who shall see that the provisions of section first of this act be complied with, and who shall retain this office for a period of three months –after which the Society may elect a President of their own choice in a manner prescribed by law. (2004, 2014)

Section 3:

Be it further enacted that a copy of this act shall continue in full force upon all bodies organizing for the purpose specified in Section First and cannot be made null and void even by unanimous consent of said bodies.

Section 4:

And be it further enacted that a copy of this Act of Dissolution be given to the President of University every three years during the period of dissolution, and to every newly appointed President immediately upon entering into office, and that the President’s signature thereto be requested. (2004, 2014)




the Philodemic Society


Georgetown University

Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1830


Section 1:

Any member who is not present at the calling of the roll to answer by name shall be subject to an inquiry by the President.

Section 2:

If any member during a meeting talk or laugh improperly, read any book or papers not pertaining to the debate then under discussion, make any personal remarks regarding another or any disrespectful allusion to any person’s class or studies, interrupt the speaker without permission, or be guilty of improper or unbecoming conduct, said member shall be reprimanded by the President.

Section 3:

Members must receive the permission of the presiding officer to leave their seats or the place of meeting while the Society is in session.

Section 4:

All meetings of the Society shall be open to the general public, with the exception of the Grand Semi-Annual Meetings, the assignment of keynoters at business meetings, and induction ceremonies.


Section 1:

The regular meeting of the Society for debate shall be held every Thursday evening at 8:00 PM during the Fall and Spring semesters.

Section 2:

The vote of the majority to determine the outcome of debates shall always be sufficient. Abstentions shall not be counted toward either side when determining the outcome of the debates. (2014)

Section 3:

There shall be regular debate, unless specially disposed of by a three-fourths vote, at each regular meeting

Section 4:

If, for any reason, a regular debate shall not be held on the day appointed, its debaters shall debate it at the next meeting at which a regular debate is in order, and all subsequent debates shall be postponed accordingly.

Section 5:

Two members shall be chosen to discuss every regular debate question. When deemed appropriate this number may be doubled. When such a doubling occurs for the purpose of induction, the member who is placed on the induction list first shall be granted greater seniority.

Section 6:

In order that the debaters may have time to prepare themselves, the question shall be chosen at least one week prior.

Section 7:

Every debater who occupies less than five minutes in speaking, and having had a week to prepare, shall be subject to a reprimand by the President.

Section 8:

Keynote speakers shall not speak less than five minutes and not more than fifteen minutes unless their time be extended by the Society.

Section 9:

Those who speak extemporaneously shall be confined to three minutes, unless their time be extended by the President.

Section 10:

No member shall be chosen to debate a second time until all have been chosen once. Any member may, however, take part in the debate and support either side of the question after the regular debaters have spoken.

Section 11:

In the case of a keynoter’s absence, any other member may at the request, or with the consent of the presiding officer, take the absent keynoter’s place.

Section 12:

The consent of the President shall alone excuse a member who was designated to debate from doing so.

Section 13:

No member, except the presiding officer, shall be allowed to vote on a question after the votes have been announced as equally divided.

Section 14:

No member can vote by proxy.

Section 15:

Members shall not keynote until they have paid their dues and fines. (1999)

Section 16:

The Sergeant at Arms shall, at the keynoters’ request, be responsible for giving time signals to the keynote speakers.

Section 17:

The President shall have the discretion of announcing a pre-determined “Courtesy Period” during any Debate, during which members are expected to yield the floor to nonmembers and the President disregards member seniority when deciding floor speakers. Such Courtesy Period must be announced at the reading of the house rules by the President.

Section 18:

[1] At any such time when the Society shall have 50 or more inducted members, the President may use the presiding officer’s prerogative to restrict member keynotes to 6 ½ minutes and inductee keynotes to 8 ½ minutes. The President may also impose other reasonable time restrictions on keynoters to accommodate particular circumstances, but no keynote shall be made to run longer than 15 minutes or less than 5 minutes.

[2] The President may also restrict floor speeches to a strict 2 ½ minutes instead of the customary 3 minutes.

[3] The President may rescind these restrictions at the President’s discretion, but must give keynoters at least one week prior notice as to what time constraints shall be enforced. These restrictions may also be nullified by a 2/3 vote of the active members at a Business Meeting, which shall prohibit them for the duration of the semester or until such time as the members shall reinstate them by a 2/3 vote.


Section 1:

Public debates other than the Merrick Debate and the Homecoming debate shall be determined in each case by the members of the society. (1903)

Section 2:

There shall be an annual debate for the Merrick Medal, to be held on a day in April as agreed upon by the Society before the first Thursday of February. (1994)

Section 3:

Preparations for the Merrick Medal Debate shall be conducted as follows:

[1] The Vice President shall, on or before the first Thursday in February, request from the membership at large proposed subjects for debate. By a meeting to be held during the week of the third Thursday in February, the Society shall select a subject for the Merrick Medal resolution. (2009, 1994, from 1903)

[2] Regular balloting shall be conducted after each spring debate as follows:

(a) Only those Active-members, who were present for the majority of the keynotes, shall be eligible to ballot for the best speakers of each regular debate.

(b) Both members and non-members of the Philodemic Society are subject to be voted for as each debate’s best speakers. Although only Active-members may give keynote addresses at the Merrick Medal Debate, the society will tabulate and save any and all points accrued by each of its guests in the event that any of these speakers become an Active-member before the date of the Merrick Medal Debate.

(c) All members eligible to vote shall rank who, in their opinions, were the top three speakers of the debate. The voting shall be done by secret ballot. Ballots shall be collected and tabulated by the President and Vice President of the Society, neither of whom shall be eligible to receive votes nor points for the Merrick Medal. Each first place vote in a ballot earns a speaker three (3) points; second place, two (2) points; and third place, one (1) point.

(d) Overall points for the Merrick Medal Debate (henceforth called Merrick Points) will be awarded to the five Philodemicians receiving the highest point totals for each debate. The individual earning the most points in the debate is awarded five (5) Merrick Points; the individual with second largest number of points, four (4) Merrick Points; the individual with the third largest number of points, three (3) Merrick Points; the individual with the fourth largest number of points, two (2) Merrick Points; and the individual with the fifth largest number of points, one (1) Merrick Point. In the event of tie, the Merrick Points assigned to shared places shall be awarded to all speakers sharing said place. The Merrick Points for as many places below as there are contested speakers shall not be awarded.

(e) The point totals for each debate and the accumulated Merrick Points shall be read by the President or the President’s designee after each debate.

[3] Selection of keynote speakers for the Merrick Medal Debate shall be conducted after that debate occurring as close as possible to one month prior to the scheduled Merrick Debate as follows:

(a) The four Active-members who, throughout the spring semester have accumulated the most Merrick Points, shall be chosen to give keynote addresses for the Merrick Medal Debate.

(b) In the event a tie in Merrick Points causes there to be more than four active-members with a claim to give a keynote address in the Merrick Medal Debate, the active-members of the Society shall break the tie by a secret ballot vote that shall occur immediately following the announcement of the tie with no discussion between members. (1994, 2011)

(c) Merrick Point totals shall be officially and conclusively announced by the President on said occasion.

[4] Vacancies among the Merrick Debaters, should they arise, shall be filled by those who accumulated the next highest Merrick Point totals. (1994, from 1990)

[5] Said debaters shall arrange among themselves the order in which they shall appear in debate. (1899)

[6] All speakers representing the society in intercollegiate Debate shall be chosen by the society at large.

Section 4:

[1] The Merrick Medal Committee shall be open to all Philodemicians. The VicePresident, Treasurer and Corresponding Secretary shall be standing members on the Committee. The Vice-President shall chair the Committee. (1997)

[2] The Merrick Committee shall make all preparations relative to the Merrick Debate, except for the resolution of the debate, which shall be decided upon by measures outlined elsewhere in Article III. (1997)

[3] The Committee shall meet regularly, at least once a month, and shall make monthly progress reports to the President.

[4] The Committee shall be responsible for procuring funds for the Merrick Medal each year.

[5] It shall be the duty of the Merrick Keynoters to inform the Vice President of any factor that may bias a Merrick Judge. Should such a case arise, the Judge shall not be eligible to be a Merrick Judge. A factor that may bias a Merrick Judge shall be at the discretion of the President. (2013)

[6] The failure of any Merrick Keynoter to disclose such a bias will result in that member’s ineligibility to keynote at Merrick. Such ineligibility shall be declared by the President. The Keynoter’s position will thus be filled according to Section 3, Article III, Subsection 4 of the by-laws. (2014)

[7] Merrick Keynoters are precluded from interacting with or otherwise biasing the judges at any point before or during the Merrick Debate.

[8]: The Vice President shall orient the Merrick Judges prior to the opening of the Merrick Debate and again prior to their deliberations. When orienting the Merrick Judges prior to their deliberations, the Vice President shall:

(a) Inform the Merrick Judges of the following deliberative rules:

(i) The Merrick Medal may only be awarded to one of the Merrick Keynoters by a majority vote.

(ii) The Merrick Judges are tasked with selecting the Merrick Keynoter who best exemplifies the Society’s motto: “Eloquence in the Defense of Liberty.”

(iii) The Merrick Judges must select a Foreman or Forewoman to award the Merrick Medal. (iv) Deliberations and voting of the judges are strictly closed and secret.

(b) At no time bias the Merrick Judges by expressing preference for one Merrick Keynoter over any other. (2013)

Section 5:

[1] The Homecoming Debate shall be organized and run by a committee chaired by the Corresponding Secretary in consultation with the Alumni Philodemica. (1990, 2005)

[2] The Corresponding Secretary and the Treasurer shall serve as standing members on the Committee. The Corresponding Secretary shall chair the Committee. (1997)

[3] All chairs of the Hamilton shall be alumni members, who were once an Active undergraduate members, preferably chancellor.

Section 6:

[1] The Jessica Caroe Award for Progress in Eloquence, in honor of Jessica Caroe (COL’06), shall be awarded to the Philodemic Member inducted since the previous Caroe Debate, who has demonstrated the greatest improvement in eloquence in extemporaneous floor speeches since the new member’s first speech on the floor of the Society. (2012, 2013)

[2] The Jessica Caroe Award for Progress in Eloquence shall be called the Caroe Award for short, and a suitable medal may be struck in representation of this award by the Alumni Philodemica. (2012)

[3] All active members shall be eligible to select the recipient of the Caroe Medal. (2013)

[4] The Caroe Award shall be awarded at first debate following the last Merrick Season Debate and the debate before the Dean Gordon Debate. The award may also be awarded at the Spring Grand Semiannual at the discretion of the Society. (2012)

[5] In order to ensure that all members who were inducted during that academic year have a sufficient opportunity to demonstrate their improvement in eloquence, the floor speakers at the Caroe Debate shall not be chosen based on seniority. (2013)

Section 7:

[1] The Dean Gordon debate shall be held on a Thursday after the Caroe Debate. (2016)

[2] The Dean Gordon Cup shall be awarded to the speaker who, based upon a secret ballot of the active members in attendance, delivered the wittiest floor speech of the evening. (2016)


Section 1:

If any member obstinately persists in acting contrary to the rules, in defiance of given admonitions, that member, with the consent of two-thirds of the members, shall be suspended from the Society.

Section 2:

If the President of the Society (or the Vice-President in case of the President’s absence) shall consider the conduct of any member improper, the President shall have the power to call the member to order

Section 3:

It shall be the duty of any members who may have heard or witnessed any violations of the enactments of the Constitution or By-Laws to notify the Society of the offense.

Section 4:

Every Philodemician must be addressed in a courteous manner.

Section 5:

In addressing the Chair, the member shall assume a graceful and becoming attitude.

Section 6:

When a member rises to speak, the member shall address the presiding officer by the officer’s preferred honorific and appropriate title, such as “Mr. President” or “Madam President.”

Section 7:

No member during a meeting of this Society shall speak or laugh improperly; make any personal remarks or reflections upon another member; or show a desire to make the floor speaker appear ridiculous; interrupt another member whilst speaking, or be guilty of any act which may be thought improper, under the penalty of a fine according to the pleasure of the Society.

Section 8:

No member shall use opprobrious word to another at any time of the meeting.

Section 9:

No member shall assume an ungraceful lounging posture whilst the Society is in session.

Section 10:

All members of this Society are bound by their honor to report to the Society other members who they consider to be acting in an improper manner with regard to Society matters.

Section 11:

Any undergraduate members who attend debate attired in a manner inappropriate to the dignity of the occasion shall be fined not less than five dollars. If any member shall breach said decorum of attire three times in one semester, that member shall be ejected from the debating chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms until such time as that member is in compliance with the By-Laws and Traditions of the Society. No honorary member, nor guest, shall be penalized according to this provision, but shall be politely asked to respect the Traditions of this Society in private by the Sergeant-at-Arms at the conclusion of debate. (1998)


The President shall levy all fines imposed at a Society meeting for unbecoming behavior. At the Induction Ceremony of all new members, the Society shall sing the Alma Mater and the Fight Song. There shall be regular toasts to newly-inducted Members after each debate. Merrick Toast: “To the Philodemic Society;” “To Georgetown University;” “To Richard T. Merrick;” “To George Washington, father of this country;” “To John Carroll;” “To the Society of Jesus;” “To eloquence in the defense of Liberty;” “To the winner of the Merrick Debate;” “To the United States of America;” “To the Merrick Debaters.”


Appendix I: House Rules

[1] There shall be no smoking or drinking during the debate.

[2] There shall be no swearing or unbecoming behavior during the debate.

[3] Hissing shall not be permitted except in response to extraordinarily vulgar, disrespectful, or debasing speech

[4] No hats shall be worn in the audience.

[5] No electronic communication devices shall be used and their ringers silenced during the debate.

[6] There shall be no reading or talking between members during the debate.

[7] No one shall approach the President’s chair during the debate.

[8] Each person designated by the President to speak from the floor shall respond to the previous speaker.

[9] All floor speakers shall address their remarks to the President.

[10] Non-members, when designated by the President to speak from the floor, shall introduce themselves by name, class and year.

[11] Floor speakers shall end their remarks promptly when signaled to by the President banging the gavel.

Appendix II: Alma Mater

Hail, o Georgetown, Alma Mater!

Swift Potomac’s lovely daughter,

Ever watching by the water,

Smiles on us today.

Now her children gather round her,

Lo, with garlands they have crowned her,

Rev’rent hands and fond en-wound her,

With the Blue and Gray.

Wave her colors ever,

Furl her standard never!

Raise it high,

And proudly cry,

May Georgetown live forever!

Where Potomac’s tide is streaming,

From her spires and steeples beaming,

Sees the grand old banner gleaming,

Georgetown’s Blue and Gray.

Throned on hills beside the river,

Georgetown sees it flow forever,

Sees the ripples shine and shiver,

Watching night and day.

And each tender breeze upspringing,

Rarest woodland perfumes bringing,

All its folds to fullness flinging,

Flaunts the Blue and Gray.

By Robert J. Collier, C’ 1894

Appendix III: Fight Song

It’s been so long since last we met, lie down forever, lie down.

Or have you any money to bet, lie down forever, lie down.

There goes old Georgetown, straight for a touchdown.

See how they gain ground, lie down forever, lie down.

Rah, rah, rah, hurrah for Georgetown, cheer for victory today.

Ere the sun is sunk to rest in the cradle of the west,

In the clouds we’ll proudly float the Blue and Gray.

We’ve heard those loyal fellows up at Yale brag and boast about the Boola-Boola.

We’ve heard the Navy yell; we’ve listened to Cornell,

We’ve heard to sons of Harvard tell how the Crimson lines will hold them.

Choo-Choo, rah-rah, dear old Holy Cross, the proud old Princeton tiger is never at a loss,

But the yell of all the yells, the yell that wins the day

Is the Hoya, Hoya Saxa for the dear old Blue and Gray!

Appendix IV: Last Update of Constitution

The Constitution and By-Laws of the Philodemic Society were last amended at the Spring 2016 Grand Semi-Annual Meeting.

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