HWS Hosts World’s Top Debate Teams – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Hosts World’s Top Debate Teams

Hobart and William Smith Colleges will host the best collegiate debate teams from across the globe this weekend for the ninth annual International Round Robin Debate Tournament – the most elite debate tournament in the world.

Bringing together an internationally diverse group of debaters and adjudicators to the Colleges, the Round Robin tournament will be held on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4. The finals will be held at 4:30 p.m. on April 4 in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center. All rounds of the tournament are free and open to the public.

The program kicked off on April 2 with a keynote address by China Director for Human Rights Watch Dr. Sophie Richardson, who presented: “Promoting Human Rights in China from the Inside and Out.” Richardson’s talk was held in the Vandervort Room. 

“Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the HWS Debate Team are pleased to welcome this remarkable field of debaters to Geneva for the International Round Robin Debate Tournament,” says Eric Barnes, associate professor of philosophy and coach of the HWS Debate Team. “The competitors have earned the most prestigious and well-respected titles bestowed in collegiate debate, making the Round Robin tournament an outstanding occasion to view competitive debate at the highest level.”

Among the competitors at this year’s Round Robin are the Worlds Finalists, U.S. National Champions, North American Champions, African Champions, European Champions and the United Asian Champions, as well as many other of the most accomplished collegiate debaters.

Teams include: Bates College, BPP University Law School of England, Cambridge University, two teams from Hart House at University of Toronto, Harvard University, Loyola Marymount University, McGill University, Nanyang Technological University, Queen’s University, Stanford University, University of Belgrade, University of Botswana, University of Sheffield, Universiti Teknologi MARA and Western Ontario University.

In addition, students attending the tournament hail from 17 different nations: Australia, Botswana, Canada, England, India, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Swaziland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.  

Previous winners of the Round Robin Invitational at HWS include teams from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Trinity College Dublin and Stanford. As host, HWS cannot apply to compete.

As Thursday’s keynote speaker, Richardson is a noted author and scholar who has written numerous articles on domestic Chinese political reform, democratization, and human rights in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Vietnam. She has testified before the European Parliament and the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

Richardson also has provided commentary to the BBC, CNN, National Public Radio, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. She is the author of “China, Cambodia and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” (2009), an in-depth examination of China’s foreign policy since the 1954 Geneva Conference. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, the Hopkins-Nanjing Program and Oberlin College.

At this year’s tournament, Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’13, United States Universities Debate Champion of 2012 and chief adjudicator of the 2014 North America Championships, will return to campus to serve as a competition judge.

In addition, Adrian DeVuyst ’15 is serving as the tournament director. Others HWS students in charge of running the tournament are: Haley Giunta ’18, Max Fisher ’18, Joe Hayes ’18, Emma Herbst ’18, Taylor Murray ’17, Emily Saeli ’16 and Megan Soule ’15, who is serving as chief of staff.

The HWS Debate Team’s current officers are: Daniel Schonning ’16, president; Emily Saeli ’16, vice president; Joe Hayes ’18, treasurer; Josh Martin ’18; secretary. Steven Penner, an internationally respected judge and coach, is the HWS Debate Team’s assistant coach.

The first round of the Round Robin will take place on April 3 in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library and also in Stern Hall, from 4 to 5:15 p.m. The second round will also take place on April 3 in Stern Hall, from 8 to 9:15 p.m. On April 4, round three (9:45 – 11 a.m.), round four (11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and round five (2 to 3:15 p.m.) will all take place in Stern Hall. A complete schedule is available online.

Throughout the academic year, 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.

In October 2014, HWS Debate also hosted more than 100 top-ranked debate teams from dozens of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada for the North American Universities Debate Championship (NAUDC). The event drew more than 300 people to campus.