Some of the most accomplished debate teams in the world will converge on Hobart and William Smith on April 4 and 5 as the Colleges host the eighth annual Round Robin Invitational. The Round Robin has become one of the most competitive debate tournaments in the world, bringing together an elite and internationally diverse group of debaters and adjudicators annually. The keynote speaker on Friday, April 4, will be Thomas Tighe, president and CEO of Direct Relief International, which is among the most highly respected and efficient international charities operating today. Tighe will speak at 4:30 p.m. His lecture and the rounds of the competition are open to the public.
“Participating this year are some of the most skilled teams in the tournament’s history, including the winners of most of the best tournaments in the world,” says Eric Barnes, associate professor of philosophy and coach of the HWS Debate Team.
Competing in the Invitational are the current world champions and the world champions in the English as a Second Language (ESL) category, as well as the All-Asian Champions, the Pan-African Champions, the Australian Champions, the Canadian Champions, the U.S. National Champions and the European Champions.
Teams include Bates College; Berlin Debating Union; Cambridge University (two teams); Cape Town University; Hart House at University of Toronto; Harvard University; Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; Loyola Marymount University; McGill University; National University of Singapore; Stanford University; University of Sydney; Western Ontario University; and two teams from Yale University.
“Complementing the outstanding caliber of the competitors, this year’s pool of judges is the best the Invitational has fielded,” says Barnes. “Judges include former World Champions and also the two Chief Adjudicators in charge of running the 2014 and 2015 World Championships.”
As Friday’s keynote speaker, Tighe has an inspiring history of being committed to making the world a better place for those in need. He has served as a Peace Corps volunteer and associate general counsel of the Peace Corps. He then served as chief of staff and chief operating officer of the Peace Cors, overseeing day-to-day operations of the agency’s worldwide programs and a resurgent growth of the corps to an 27-year high. Since then, Tighe has spent 14 years at the helm of one of the world’s most charitable organizations, which has made major contributions to both ongoing humanitarian problems and disaster relief operations.
HWS Debate Team co-president Amira Abdulkadir ’14 is tournament director for HWS this year and Alex Worsnip is chief adjudicator. Worsnip first attended the Round Robin in 2008, representing Oxford. In 2009, he returned to win the event, the same year he was a finalist at the World Championships.
Previous winners of the Round Robin Invitational at HWS include teams from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Trinity College Dublin and Stanford. The Colleges’ team is ineligible to compete as host of the event. During this year’s winter break, members of the HWS Debate Team competed in the World Universities Debating Championship, the largest debating tournament in the world, and placed in the top half of the field. Team member Emily Saeli ’16 served as adjudicator of the debates, and was then promoted to chair of the adjudication panel.
The first round of the Invitational will take place Friday, April 4 in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center, from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m. Round two will move to Stern Hall and run from 8 to 10 p.m. On Saturday, rounds three (9:30 to 11:15 a.m.), four (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and five (1:45 to 3:15 p.m.) all will take place in Stern Hall. Teams return to the Vandervort room for the final round at 4:30. The full schedule is available online.
In October, the Colleges 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’13, United States Universities Debate Champion of 2012, will return to campus to serve as chief adjudicator.