Delta Rho Society
Previous/other names: Ladies' Debating Society
Prominent date(s) of activity: 1902 - 1947 (thereafter merged with the Men's Debating Society)
History: The records of the UNB Ladies' Debating Society date from 1902. The following year the name was changed to the Delta Rho Society. The laws of the society dictated that "Every college girl is a member of the Delta Rho. Each one must take part in the meeting when called upon to do so or present a reasonable excuse."
In 1904, the society had 27 members. Initially, the meetings were held in the homes of members. The hostess and her mother provided a luncheon and the meeting sometimes ended with a "pleasant little dance" or other "jollification." Some of the members lived in boarding houses and when it was their turn to host, the meetings were far more spartan. During the last meeting of the year, the Juniors traditionally regaled the graduating Seniors with a witty history of their university careers and humorous prophecies about their futures. Sometimes, charades and scenes from Shakespeare were acted out.
The members of Delta Rho took the debates very seriously. The reading of speeches was frowned upon, as was unseemly behaviour. An official critic was appointed for each debate and she delivered her comments once the debate was finished. A committee was responsible for choosing the topics to be debated. Most of the topics were of a serious nature but they sometimes debated a humorous topic, such as the 1903 resolution, "Resolved that an old bachelor is of more use in the world than an old maid." The debates were often concerned with current affairs. In 1904, the year of the Russo-Japanese War, Delta Rho debated "Resolved that Russia is a greater nation than Japan."
By 1914, although meetings were still sometimes held at members' homes, they were more often held in the Ladies' Reading Room in the Old Arts Building or at the home of a professor or the UNB President. The meetings became less serious. School songs and yells were incorporated into the meetings. In 1916, Dalhousie University proposed the formation of an Intercollegiate Ladies Debating Club. The Delta Rho Society was initially quite enthusiastic but withdrew the following year as they decided they needed more practice before they were ready to compete with other universities.
In 1947, Delta Rho merged with the Men's Debating Society to form a co-ed debating society.
- UA Case 173.
- UA RG 16; Ladies Debating Society Minute Book.
- Up the Hill,1947, Organizations.
© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014