During this year’s winter break, three HWS students traveled to Chennai, India to compete in the World Universities Debating Championship.
HWS Debate Team co-president Amira Abdulkadir ’14 teamed up with Danny Schonning ’16 to debate the toughest competitors from around the world. They argued about topics as varied as NATO membership for former Soviet states, the commodification of indigenous cultures, and the rise of the “hookup culture.”
Hosted each year by a different university, the World Universities Debating Championship — known as the “Worlds” — is the “largest debating tournament, and the largest annual international student events in the world,” according to the Chennai Worlds’ website. “Students from the world’s best universities regularly compete. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Monash, Sydney and dozens of other world-class universities send their best students. As a result, being crowned ‘World Champion’ is one of the most prestigious titles a student can attain.”
After days of debating, during which Abdulkadir and Schonning defeated teams from schools such as Princeton, Duke and the London School of Economics, the HWS team placed in the top half of the field, finishing ahead of many top local rivals, such as Middlebury College, Colgate University and Amherst College.
“The HWS Debate Team continues to make its presence felt on the international debating circuit, where our students are competing against the smartest undergraduate and graduate students from the best universities in the world,” says Eric Barnes, associate professor of philosophy and coach of the Debate Team, who also traveled to Chennai for the Worlds. “Amira and Danny turned in a strong performance in India, and I’m excited to see our team’s size and reputation continue to grow.”
Emily Saeli ’16 also attended the Worlds, serving first as an adjudicator of the debates, but by the end of the tournament, had been promoted to chair of an adjudication panel, “an impressive achievement, especially for someone who has only been debating for a year,” says Barnes.
In October, HWS and the HWS Debate Team will host the 2014 North American Universities Debating Championships. Attracting the best debaters from across the continent, this competition will be the biggest debate tournament the Colleges have hosted. Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12, United States Universities Debate Champion of 2012, will return to campus as Chief Adjudicator.