More than 100 top-ranked debate teams from 35 colleges and universities have convened at Hobart and William Smith this weekend to compete in the widely-acclaimed North American Universities Debate Championship (NAUDC). The tournament, which is free and open to the public, will take place from Friday, Oct. 24 to Sunday, Oct. 26 at a number of campus venues, including at Albright Auditorium where the championship debate will be held.
“This is a big tournament that will draw a wide range of people from across the United States and Canada,” says Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes, the head coach of the HWS Debate Team. “We will be welcoming more than 300 guests, many who have not been to HWS and Geneva. This is a great opportunity to showcase the Colleges as a center of intellectual exchange.”
Now in its second year, NAUDC asks teams to debate a range of contemporary, controversial issues that cover everything from social issues to politics and morality. Following the preliminary debates on Friday and Saturday, the top 16 debate teams will qualify to compete on Sunday, when the quarterfinals, semifinals and final round will be held. Competitors include both undergraduate and graduate students.
At this year’s NAUDC, one of the co-chief adjudicators is Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12, a well-respected member of the debate community, who will serve on a five-person adjudication team. In 2012, Klinger and fellow HWS Debate Team member Will McConnell ’12 were named the United States National Champions. Amira Abdulkadir ’14 also is returning to HWS for the tournament to serve as one of two equity officers. In 2013, Abdulkadir along with Anna Dorman ’14 represented HWS at the 33rd World Universities Debating Championship in Berlin.
This year, the NAUDC replaces the HWS Fall Classic debate tournament, which typically draws about 40 of the best debate teams from throughout the Northeast.
Barnes says the Colleges have a notable presence in the international debate community. He also says there is a strong tradition at HWS of hosting high-level collegiate debate tournaments, including the annual Round Robin Invitational. Each spring, the Round Robin convenes the world’s best debate teams, as well as renowned keynote speakers. Previous Round Robin winners include teams from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Trinity College Dublin, Sydney and Stanford. As host, the Colleges’ team cannot apply to compete.
Barnes says the tournaments in which HWS Debate participates follow the Worlds-Style format, which is designed for an audience presence. He says, “These debaters speak at a moderate pace that allows people to follow along.” The NAUDC followd that format.
“Watching debates can be really exciting and interesting,” Barnes says. “It’s verbal sparring – an exchange of ideas that can be great to watch.”
In addition to helping to prepare for the NAUDC, the HWS Debate Team is currently gearing up for the rest of its 2014-2015 season.
Following the NAUDC, HWS Debate will be selecting which team members will attend the 2015 World Universities Debating Championship in Malaysia. This year, the HWS Debate Team also brought on a new assistant debate coach, Steven Penner, who is an internationally respected judge and debate coach.
In recent time, Barnes and the HWS Debate Team have worked locally with students in Geneva’s elementary and middle schools to provide them with opportunities to hone their skills in public speaking and debate. They have also worked in collaboration with debate programs in China through coaching and assistance.