In the World University Debate Championship in Manila over winter break, HWS Debate Team members -Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12 and William McConnell ’12 — ranked 21st in the world. They were among only five U.S. colleges and universities in the final group, standing with teams from Yale, Stanford, Harvard and the University of Alaska.
The HWS team emerged from a pool of 396 teams from across the world and outperformed any previous HWS team in the program’s history.
Following nine rounds of heated debate, the team entered the “octofinals,” where they battled the 32 remaining teams. In their final debate, Klinger and McConnell argued that governments should not allow a single corporation to own multiple media outlets.
“The people who are attending this tournament are the best from their own university – and the universities that are attending are the best in the country and the world,” says Assistant Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes, coach and adviser to the HWS debate team. “Within these schools, the students who are interested in debate are some of the most intelligent members of that; these students are the best of the best of the best. To see Buzz and Will compete at this level – against that -is extremely impressive.”
In fact, a majority of Klinger and McConnell’s competition were graduate students. “The Worlds are open to anyone still in school,” explains Barnes. “Many of these people are studying law or are pursuing their PhDs. These are people who have gone to work or gone back to school; very few of the top people are ever undergraduates.”
“It was sometimes intimidating to see that we would have to debate teams from very prestigious schools, but we beat many of them,” says Klinger, who individually ranked an astounding 41st out of the 792 debaters in the competition. “We have a good deal of experience with this at tournaments at Yale, Hart House, and elsewhere in North America during last semester. It’s so important that HWS debaters have the opportunity to go to prestigious tournaments and get experience at that high level.”
When Klinger and McConnell learned of their success, they were thrilled to be counted among the best and brightest. “It was incredibly rewarding to get to that point. When we found out that we did break into octofinals- on New Year’s Eve – well…it was a pretty good feeling,” laughs McConnell.
Formed in the fall of 2004, the HWS debate team has competed throughout North America and the world. This year, the team also competed in tournaments hosted by Yale and the University of Toronto that had them ranked eighth in North America.
Klinger plans on triple-majoring in political science, public policy and economics. As an experienced debater from high school, his main extracurricular interest is the HWS Debate Team.
McConnell is a sociology major, and currently serves as Sociology Teaching Fellow. McConnell plans on pursuing a Ph.D in sociology next fall. He is also president of the Hobart club rugby team, which he has been on for all four years.