HWS Debate in the Spotlight – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Debate in the Spotlight

With exciting competitions at Yale University, Bard College and University of Toronto, the HWS Debate Team continues its track of successes against some of the world’s most competitive collegiate debate programs.

Among the team’s recent highlights is international recognition of HWS Assistant Debate Coach Steven Penner, who served as one of the three judges for the recent Bard Prison Initiative vs. Harvard College debate at Eastern New York Correctional Facility which made headlines after the inmates bested the Crimson. An internationally respected judge and debate coach, Penner was noted for his role as a tournament adjudicator by several major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.

“It was an outstanding and illuminating experience, and one I am immensely grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in,” Penner says.

HWS Debate will host the sixth annual Fall Classic IV at the Colleges on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25. The tournament will take place in Albright Auditorium with the final championship round held at 3:45 on Sunday. The debates are free and open to the public.

Competitors will arrive from across the U.S. and Canada, with teams representing Yale, Columbia University, Cornell University and Queen’s University, among others. Provided there are enough judges, HWS novices may compete. The top team will earn a spot at the 10th annual International Round Robin Debate Tournament – the most elite debate tournament in the world held annually at HWS. The dates for the 2016 Round Robin are April 1-2.

To kick off the 2015-2016 academic year, HWS Debate first competed at the debate “season opener,” Bard IV. The novice debaters from HWS were competitive, with teammates Danny Schonning ’16 and Amanda Ngo ’19 tied for the final spot in the elimination rounds, only to fall short after a tie-breaking coin flip.

At Bard IV, every HWS team was comprised of one varsity debater and one novice debater (a first-year team member). In all, HWS sent eight, two-person teams to compete in the tournament against regional schools.

“This equaled our team record for largest contingent ever sent to a tournament, which is a testament to the strength of our student recruitment efforts this year,” says Penner, who serves alongside head debate coach and Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes. “It was still a great way to kick off the year.”

Earlier this month, the HWS Debate Team also participated in the Yale IV, the season’s largest and most competitive stand-alone tournament. The three competing teams from HWS excelled, with Schonning and Emily Saeli ’16 advancing to the quarterfinals and finishing 13th out of 160 teams. The Yale IV is the most competitive fall tournament in all of North America.

“This marked our best finish at the tournament in four years, and they put up an admirable and competitive fight in their quarterfinal against the other three teams, all of whom had previously advanced to the elimination rounds at the world championships,” Penner says. “It is hopefully a sign of things to come for Danny and Emily.”

Most recently, six teams from HWS Debate competed at Toronto’s Hart House IV, Canada’s largest tournament.

“We’ve been happy with our successes this year,” Penner says. “It’s always fulfilling to see students get the results that their hard work leads to.”

Earlier this year, members of the Debate Team took a three-week trip across China, offering training workshops, serving as adjudicators and competing in the China Open debate tournament. The team was represented by Schonning, Saeli, Chris Doak ’18, Emma Herbst ’18 and alum Buzz Klinger ’12, who, along with teammate Will McConnell ’12, was named 2012 United States Universities Debate Champions.

Last October, 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. The event drew more than 300 people to campus.