Podilectern, n. (also a jumbled variety of simultaneous failed attempts to pronounce it, never the same twice).
"Glory be to God for dappled things," says the poet Hopkins -- and the Podilectern is just such a one. Neither podium nor lectern, but a miraculous conjunction of the two, its doubleness is the source of its mystery and wonder.
The function of the Podilectern is similar to that of the "rostrum" in other, less sophisticated literary societies. Members speak from behind the Podilectern when addressing an item of Old or New Business, when discharging the duties of the Nomenclaturist General, and, most importantly, when delivering a speech. In this latter case, approach to the Podilectern is granted at the discretion of the Moderator, if and only if the Moderator looks upon the prospective speaker's obsequy with favor. Failure to state one's name and other relevant information (e.g. favorite, committee) immediately after approaching yon Podilectern is considered in extremely poor taste.
In case this unfamiliar word should present a challenge to some (we are not, after all, a pronunciation society), the Moderator, before beginning the debate, traditionally leads those present in the clear and correct pronunciation of "Podilectern." This service is ostensibly intended for those unfamiliar with Philo practice -- yet paradoxically, even some of Philo's oldest and most venerable members still appear to find the difficulties of its pronunciation insurmountable.
Historical note: the dual nature of the Podilectern was debated at the Council of Ephesus in 431, where the doctrine of Nestorianism (that the Podilectern was comprised of two distinct persons, one podium and one lectern) was rejected as a heresy. Since then Philo dogma has insisted on the inseparability of its podiousness from its lecternity, both of which subsist in an integrated whole.
Actual historical note: Podilecterns are a feature of Columbia classrooms that haven't been upgraded with fancy electronic systems. Therefore, they may be a dying presence on campus. When the Society has occasionally lost its podilectern (heaven forfend), it has been replaced by the commandeering of one from a classroom for Philo purposes. The most recent podilectern was appropriated sometime around spring 2004. It is most remarkable for its loose plank, which most likely came undone in a dropping of the podilectern. Said plank became an immortal Philo prop in 2004 when Edward rueda used it to mock-crucify Melisa kenslea while she was delivering a speech.