This semester, the HWS Debate Team has had a series of recent successes at major competitions, including a semi-finals appearance by Chris Doak ’18 and Emma Herbst ’18 at the U.S. Novice Nationals, the national championship for first-year collegiate debaters.
At the Novice Nationals, Doak ranked 14th for individual speaker. In addition, HWS Debate Team assistant coach Steven Penner, team president Danny Schonning ’16 and past president Emily Surprenant ’15 were invited to judge the tournament, which was held at Ithaca College.
“The Debate Team’s performance is exciting to be a part of,” Schonning says. “Our latest wave of first-year students have shown tremendous growth over the course of a year.”
Other recent accolades at competitions include a ninth place finish for Taylor Murray ’17 and Emily Saeli ’16 at the Ithaca IV tournament, which ran at the same time as the Novice Nationals. The team missed the elimination round by the narrowest possible margin, with only eight other teams advancing. The Ithaca IV is for varsity debaters.
HWS Debate also recently attended the regional championships at Western Connecticut State University, where the team fared very well. Murray and Adrian DeVuyst ’15 finished in 10th place at the tournament, while Joe Hayes ’18 and Saeli finished in 14th. It was an impressive showing in which both teams would have qualified for the first elimination round, but the event was canceled due to the weather.
“As the semester’s only begun, I have high hopes for the tournaments to come,” Schonning says.
HWS Debate will next send team members to the Adelphi IV debate tournament at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. on Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1. HWS Debate will also compete the following weekend at the North American Women’s Championship hosted at University of Vermont. Later in the semester from April 10-13, HWS Debate will join the National Championship in collegiate debate hosted by University of Alaska at Anchorage. HWS is guaranteed to send four teams (two students each) to the National Championships.
Schonning says the team is again looking forward to hosting the annual HWS Round Robin tournament, the most competitive collegiate debate tournament in the world. Each year, the event brings together champions of British Parliamentary debate. Debaters and judges arrive in Geneva from places as far away as Malaysia and Botswana. Previous winners include teams from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Sydney and Stanford. As host, HWS cannot apply to compete. The Round Robin will held at HWS on April 3-4.
During the fall 2014 semester, more than 100 top-ranked debate teams from dozens of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada competed at HWS in the North American Universities Debate Championship (NAUDC). Drawing more than 300 people to campus, the widely-acclaimed NAUDC asked teams to debate a range of contemporary, controversial issues.