Round Robin Debate Returns – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Round Robin Debate Returns

Some of the brightest young minds from colleges and universities around the world will gather at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. in a debate event that mirrors the diplomatic summits of world leaders. This is a unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the most eloquent speakers and decision-makers of tomorrow when students from 16 prestigious international universities compete in the third-annual Hobart and William Smith Colleges Round Robin Debate Tournament on Saturday, April 11.

The event, hosted by the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Debate Team in partnership with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), a part of the Soros Foundations’ Open Society Institute, has gained international recognition in just two short years.

“In the world of debate tournaments, ours is considerably young,” explains Eric Barnes, assistant professor of philosophy and debate team coach. “However, each year we see increased international participation and interest. Having IDEA join us as a partner last year, in only our second year, was a significant compliment and others took notice.”

This year’s esteemed group of debaters come from Harvard; MIT; Oxford; Yale; Columbia; Cornell University; Middle Temple (England); University of Cambridge; Hart House (University of Toronto); Loyola Marymount University; National Law School of India; Tel Aviv University; Witwatersrand (South Africa); and York University (Canada).

HWS became innovators in 2007 when they hosted the first-ever round robin tournament in British Parliamentary style. This style consists of four teams of two speakers debating at once. Each participant arrives with his or her own unique field of expertise as well as knowledge of current events and issues affecting global economies, the environment and political relations, and must formulate a cohesive argument around such an issue with only 15 minutes to prepare on the assigned topic before debating about it. There are five rounds of highly competitive debate.

Past debate topics have included: community service as a requirement to graduate from high school; whether an international police force should be created whose sole task is to apprehend those indicted by the international court; consideration of whether some nations should be barred from sitting on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; debate on fashion magazines inflicting more harm to women than pornographic magazines.

The competition is steep- participants are winners of some of the most prestigious tournaments around the globe – the World Championships; the Canadian National Champions; North American Championships; ESL World Champions; the All-Asian Tournament; the Southern African Championships; the Oxford IV, as well as the U.S. National competition.  Additionally, the adjudicators have all been recognized at the World Championships as among the best in the world. Neill Harvey-Smith of the University of London is the chair of the World Universities Debating Council and will lead the adjudication team.

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges debate team itself has risen in the debate circuit. HWS recently won the UMass Debate Tournament and the Northeast Regional Championships. Over the past few years, the Colleges have consistently placed teams in quarterfinals or better in tournaments. However, as the host of the tournament, the Colleges’ team cannot compete in this event. 

The final round of the tournament will be held in the Vandervort Room on Saturday, April 11 at 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. For more information, see the calendar on the Daily Update.