The nationally competitive HWS Debate Team, which sent 25 students to 14 off-campus tournaments during the 2015-2016 academic year, has continued its longstanding tradition of excellence with another stellar season and the early planning stages of a major continental competition.
HWS Debate won both the Brad Smith Invitational at the University of Rochester and Cornell Inter-Varsity tournaments. They also advanced teams to the elimination rounds at Yale IV and the National Championships, and they had a team in the final round of the highly competitive Colgate Open.
“Looking back at the year, I’m proud of what the HWS Debate Team accomplished,” says Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes, who serves as the HWS Debate Coach. “We hosted two tournaments, including our annual international championship, with both events utilizing the diverse skills of our team members in senior organizing roles.”
In addition, during the upcoming fall 2016 semester, the team will be transforming the HWS Fall Classic from a well-established regional competition into a major continental competition to be called the HWS Inter-Varsity (HWS IV).
“To do this, we have recruited the most qualified and prestigious adjudication team ever assembled for a tournament in North America,” Barnes says. “This may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not even close to one, since our team includes North American Champions, a European Champion, World Champions, and a coach of World Champions. Our intention is to ensure that in the future, every fall tournament at HWS will be among the most competitive in North America, which is only possible through the hard work and dedication of the students on the HWS Debate Team.”
With the close of the spring semester, Barnes says HWS Debate had three talented members graduate including Danny Schonning ’16, Emily Saeli ’16 and Aboubacar Okeke-Diagne ’16.
“Our gratitude and appreciation goes out to them for their incredible contributions to our team while students here,” Barnes says, adding that the team will be led by a strong core of rising sophomores and juniors, including HWS Debate President Taylor Murray ’17.
During the academic year, the HWS Debate Team meets twice each week. Every spring, the team hosts the International Round Robin Debate Tournament, the most elite debate tournament in the world. The 2016 event featured collegiate debate teams from about 20 countries ranging from Singapore and Sweden to Malaysia and South Africa.
The team also maintains close connections with its base of alums, including Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12, who along with Will McConnell ’12 were named the United States Universities Debate Champions. Hosted at Williamette University in Salem, Ore., they placed first in the nation among 156 top-ranked teams.