More than 100 top-ranked debate teams from dozens of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada were recently in Geneva to compete in the North American Universities Debate Championship (NAUDC) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Held from Oct. 24-26 and drawing more than 300 people to campus, the widely-acclaimed NAUDC asked teams to debate a range of contemporary, controversial issues. Los Angeles-based Loyola Marymount University won the championship, with Bates College, Swarthmore College and University of Toronto landing spots as finalists. Motions – or debated topics – ranged from whether the U.S. should influence democratic unrest in China to whether a person’s publicly stated opinions such as blog posts or Tweets should affect employment status.
“The weekend gave us a chance to show a lot of new people how incredibly smart, efficient and hospitable our team can be, even under the pressure of hosting 300 people for a three-day event,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes, the HWS Debate Team coach. “Indeed, the consensus among the debaters seemed to be that this was one of the best tournaments that they had ever attended. The students on the team did an amazing job in pulling off a very logistically complicated event. There seems little doubt that HWS would be selected if we ever chose to run another major title tournament.”
In the spring, Geneva will see the arrival of national and international visitors for the elite Round Robin Invitational, which convenes 16 of the world’s best debate teams and 16 of the world’s best judges at HWS. The NAUDC winning team from Loyola Marymount qualified to compete at the upcoming Round Robin, which will be held on campus on April 3-4, 2015. Previous Round Robin winners include teams from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Sydney and Stanford. As host, HWS Debate cannot apply to compete.
“The honor of hosting the North American Debate Championships goes beyond the prestige of being selected from numerous universities across the continent. It’s also the opportunity to welcome and watch some of the world’s best debaters at HWS,” said Emily Surprenant ’15, president of the HWS Debate Team. “Having rounds occur on campus is not only an incredible learning experience for our debaters, who competed and judged this past weekend, but equally for the students, staff and administrators who came and observed debates.”
A number of HWS alums also returned to Geneva for the event, including Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12 who served as NAUDC chief adjudicator, Amira Abdulkadir ’14 who served as a judge and Equity Officer in charge of handling complaints regarding inappropriate or offensive statements made during debates; and Dan Maguire ’11 who also served as judge. Abdulkadir and Maguire were honored by their being selected as judges for the quarter-finals.
“The general caliber of debate at the tournament was very strong, with the average speech score being significantly higher than usual for these competitions,” said HWS assistant debate coach Steven Penner, an internationally respected judge and debate coach. “It was very rewarding to see the hard work of our students pay off with such a well-regarded event. They’ve really done the Colleges proud.”
In addition to hosting the NAUDC, the HWS Debate Team has also been gearing up for the rest of the 2014-2015 season. In November, HWS Debate will be selecting which team members will attend the 2015 World Universities Debating Championship in Malaysia.
For more information about the Round Robin Invitational at HWS, visit: http://hwsidearoundrobin.org/