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Image: Christine Wang/Fulcrum
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Mandatory attendance debate was already raging in the 1950s

Originally published on Sept. 29, 1954

Doctor Emmett O’Grady and professor Jean-Luc Pepin were the victorious debaters of the debate schedules as one of the highlights of Freshmen Week. The result of the resolution “That class attendance should be necessary” was 480 points for the victors, and 479 points for the losers; the brilliant negative team overcame the gentlemen of the affirmative, professor John Farrell and Mr. Rodrigue Bédard, Q.C.

Doctor O’Grady and Mr. Pepin pointed out that as much knowledge can be gained in other places as that which is offered in the classroom. Many great and famous men attained the acme of knowledge, and are today regarded as masters and perfectionists, although they have had the minimum or no schooling at all. One university in the United States judges its students not on the course they are following, but on what they read outside the classroom. The winners also pointed out that in this age there are more and more mediums through which a person can be educated without attending the classroom day after day.

The freshmen attending the debate learned one great lesson. If they are attending the University, it is more an honour than an ordeal. They were shown that in addition to their regular classwork, a complete education can be furthered, and must be furthered, by diligent and assiduous extra-curricular work.

The original article. Photo: Charley Dutil/Fulcrum

Fun facts about this article:

  • Emmett O’Grady was part of U of O’s English department for 33 years. The Emmett O’Grady Scholarship Fund offers aid for undergraduate students in the Department of English who show outstanding promise in the field of literature.
  • Professor Jean-Luc Pepin was a political science professor at U of O before being elected to the House of Commons in 1963 as a Liberal MP from Quebec. He was Minister of Transport from 1980 to 1983
  • This article was originally published in 1954, but the topic is still incredibly relevant today. The Varsity (University of Toronto’s student newspaper) published a piece asking “Should class attendance be mandatory?” on Aug. 3 2021.