Jillian LaCroix ’08 and Kathleen Bardsley ’08 recently returned from Bangkok, Thailand, where they spent part of their winter break in the 28th World Universities Debating Championships.
LaCroix and Bardsley proved once again that the HWS Debate Team can compete and win against some of the best collegiate debaters in the world.
This year’s World Championships were the biggest ever, attracting almost 400 debate teams, many of which included students in graduate school with years of debate experience. At the end of the tournament, the HWS Team placed 111th out of 396 teams, in the 72nd percentile — just shy of their performance in 2006.
Bardsley and LaCroix placed above all teams from Amherst, Bates, Brown, Carleton, Claremont, MIT, NYU, Vassar, Wesleyan, and William & Mary. They also placed higher than most teams from Brandeis, Colgate and Duke; while Stanford and Swarthmore each placed one team higher and one team lower than HWS. The only United States schools to consistently place teams higher that HWS at this year’s World Championships were Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Individual performances in debating are also assessed, and in this, they also did very well. Out of almost 800 competitors at the World Championships, Bardsley placed 169th and LaCroix, 116th. Placing them in the 79th and 85th percentiles, respectively, they were far and away HWS’s best individual performances.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes, the debate team coach, said, “I’m very proud of their performance. Jill and Kate did spectacularly well in Bangkok this year. If things had gone just slightly differently in their last round against Harvard, Princeton and Brown, they would have ended up near the top of the bracket. These students are competitive at the top level on international debate.”
Of the 112 U.S. debaters, only 19 placed higher than LaCroix: two from Duke, five from Harvard, four from Princeton, and eight from Yale. This means that LaCroix place above four debaters from Duke, one from Harvard, and two each from Princeton and Yale.
Students from Oxford University ultimately won the World Championship, with Sam Block of Cambridge University winning the top individual speaker award. Hobart and William Smith look forward to hosting a team from Oxford at the second annual invitational debate tournament on Friday, April 4 and Saturday the 5th, with the championship round in St. John’s Chapel. Also attending will be teams representing Harvard, Amherst, Alaska, Swarthmore, McGill, Cornell, Yale (the defending champions), and many other top debating schools.
The HWS team is already preparing for next year’s World Championships in Cork, Ireland, and the national championships later this spring in Portland, Ore.
The 2008 World Universities Debating Championships were Dec. 27 through Jan. 4 at the Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand, sponsored by Cisco, ExxonMobil and HSBC, among others.