Sixty-eight teams -a total of 136 debaters – met last weekend in Hamilton, N.Y., for Colgate University’s annual debate tournament. The nationally ranked HWS Debate Team competed against some of the world’s top teams, and the team of Amira Abdulkadir ’14 and Anna Dorman ’14 delivered impressive speeches to pass debaters from Queen’s University, McGill University, Duke, and the University of Toronto to make it to the final round.
Of the four teams in the final round, HWS students and alums counted for three out of the eight debaters – and were the only American students to reach that far in the competition.
“Amira and Anna’s success this weekend, against many of the best debaters in North America, shows continued and remarkable growth of their skills,” says Debate Team Coach and Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes. “The whole team is so much better now than it was just a few years ago. The future of debate at HWS is very exciting.”
Abdulkadir and Dorman debated on topics covering a broad spectrum of issues – ranging from the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution to communism versus unfettered capitalism. In the quarterfinals, the team beat Cornell’s top team in a debate over the topic “should foreign development aid be tied to a nation’s respect for women’s rights.”
“The first time that Amira and I ever debated was at this same tournament during our first year at William Smith, so this is kind of our tournament,” recalls Dorman. At that first outing for the team, the two broke quarterfinals. “It was really good to get back to debating – and it was a great way to prepare for Nationals in just a few weeks.”
Abdulkadir and Dorman, who recently represented the debate team at the 33rd World Universities Debating Championship in Berlin, will compete at the U.S. Nationals Debate Tournament held at the University of La Verne later this month. Only one point shy of the 18 needed to make it to the elimination series at Worlds, both are optimistic about their performance at Nationals.
The strength of the HWS debate program was also showcased by the other teams and individuals representing the Colleges at the Colgate invitational. Adrian DeVuyst ’15 and Danny Schonning ’16 proved to be a promising pairing, and the novice team of Scott Davis ’15 and Emily Saeli ’16 made an impressive showing. Emily Surprenant ’15 had the distinct honor of being chosen to chair the panel of judges in the tournament’s quarterfinals – the only sophomore to be given the privilege.
“The HWS Debate Team is doing a good job of training its members,” explains Abdulkadir. “The performance of all three teams at the tournament is evidence that we are at doing something right.”
Former member of the HWS Debate Team Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12 was also a finalist at the competition for a third year in a row. With his teammate from Carleton University, Klinger placed an impressive second in the tournament. Klinger is currently studying for his master’s at American University. He will return to compete on campus for the HWS Round Robin Invitational, when he will be reunited with his HWS debate partner, Will McConnell ’12, who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Indiana.
The winners of the Colgate Debate, from Otago University in New Zealand, will also compete in the Round Robin Invitational, which begins on Thursday, April 4, with public events and debates being held throughout the weekend. Sponsored through a partnership with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), the Invitational will feature keynote speakers Lawrence H. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University, and Chen Guangcheng, Chinese legal activist.
Other teams joining the elite and highly competitive tournament include those from Cornell, Harvard, Loyola Marymount University and Yale – as well as teams from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. The final round of the competition will take place on Saturday, April 6.
The photo above features Amira Abdulkadir ’14 and Anna Dorman ’14 while attending the World Universities Debating Championship in Berlin.