HWS Debate Tournament – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Debate Tournament

This year has been a good one for the HWS Debate team, which recently hosted what is becoming an elite tournament among an international pool of participants. Co-hosted with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) the HWS/IDEA Round Robin Debate Tournament is the only British Parliamentary-style debate in the round robin style, which requires each team to compete against every other team once, and only once. It is considered by many to be the most fair of all styles of debate.

For the first time, this year Loyola Marymount University’s debate team earned a perfect score in every round and defeated every other team at the HWS/IDEA tournament. As the tournament host, the HWS debate team was not allowed to compete.

“When you are debating against high-caliber schools, then you know you have to step up your game a notch because any weakness in your argument will be exposed,” said Kevin Kiley, in a release on the University’s Web site. Kiley was the fourth-place overall speaker in the Hobart and William Smith College tournament and is an LMU graduate student who has been on its debate team since fall 2007.

International Debate

The tournament, which is only three years old, got a jumpstart when the HWS Debate team partnered with IDEA.  According to Eric Barnes, assistant professor of philosophy and the team’s adviser, this tournament will take the team from being well-known in the northeastern U.S. to well-known nationally and internationally.

“It can be helpful to be well-known,” said Barnes. He explains the publicity created by this event will help the debate team and HWS by attracting a larger pool of students who are interested in debate, including more international students.

“We would like to attract more debaters, not only for the debate team, but because they can articulate their thoughts in a clear and concise manner and are successful students,” said Barnes. “Combined with the ability to think quickly and write well, the qualities of debaters mirror those of our successful alums in politics, law, business and many other professions.”

Another benefit of having such a tournament on campus is the experience team members gain from watching some of the world’s leading debaters firsthand and taking what they learn from them to future tournaments.

Among the teams that participated were Harvard; MIT; Oxford; Yale; Columbia; Cornell;  Hart House (University of Toronto); Loyola Marymount University, National Law School of India; Tel Aviv University; Witwatersrand Johannesburg (South Africa); York University (Canada), and Middle Temple. The tournament also brought renowned judges such as Neil Harvey-Smith, who has been on the judging council of the world debate tournament longer than any other judge.

Each year, the tournament brings a more diverse and international group of participants, some of whom find competing in English as challenging as the debate topics themselves and yet have become some of the world’s best debaters nonetheless.

“When you debate in a foreign language you have to translate your thoughts; that extra moment lost for translation is crucial,” said Sella Nevo and Uri Merhav, the team from Tel Aviv, whose national language is Hebrew. Many English-speaking teams commended the team from Tel Aviv and noted how they overcame the language challenge.

Emma Daley ’10, who observed the tournament remarked on the abilities of all of the teams. She explained that these were really great teams that had come to the tournament, and “You know they were really good when the team you root for is not the team that you agree with.”

To view the final round of the debate, featuring four of the best teams in the world (Oxford, Loyola Marymount, Hart House and the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple), click here.