The Hobart and William Smith Debate Team will host a tournament April 4 and 5 that will bring together teams from around the world and has attracted the attention of the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), a part of the Soros Foundations.
“We are hoping that this event might one day become one of the most prestigious debate events in the world, and something that teams will eagerly try to qualify for,” says Noel Selegzi, the board president of IDEA-USA. “We have decided to assist in sponsoring and organizing this event since we see it as a wonderful opportunity to expand the reach of our program, particularly to countries that to date have had less exposure to top flight debate competition.”
Selegzi went on to explain, “The list of teams coming this year is already impressive and, I'm hoping, will only continue to improve in the years to come.” Among the 16 schools attending are three Ivy League schools: Harvard University, Cornell University and Yale University. There are also three international schools: Oxford University, Queens University, and University of Toronto.
According to Kate Bardsley '08, president of the HWS debate team, this tournament also integrates the two leagues in the United States. There are schools coming from across the country, from the Claremont Colleges to Amherst College and as far as the University of Alaska. “It is an honor for HWS to host this every year. It really is the only event of its kind worldwide,” she says.
Starting on Friday, April 4, the first two rounds of the tournament will be held in Stern Hall. By the fifth round on Saturday, April 5, every team will have debated against one another. The final debate will be held in St. John's Chapel on Saturday evening. The four top teams will compete for a grand prize of $1,000. The second place team will take home $500 and the third place team $100. Trophies will be awarded to the top teams and top speakers.
The tournament will also include a Thursday night workshop with the Oxford team for the HWS Debate team, a Friday night dinner at the President’s house, and a black tie banquet at Cobblestone to conclude the event on Saturday.
By invitation only, 16 teams will compete in a British Parliamentary style debate. HWS became an innovator last year, hosting the first ever Round Robin Tournament in British Parliamentary style. This style consists of four teams in each debate, with two speakers on each team. Motions can be about topics such as international relations, education, civil liberties, or on any controversial topic at all. The teams have just 15 minutes after the motion has been announced to prepare with only printed or written materials that they carry with them.
Faculty coach for the HWS debate team, Eric Barnes, hopes to fill the chapel for the tournament's final debate. “This tournament, along with IDEA's sponsorship, gives HWS international recognition,” he says. He encourages the HWS community to come out and “watch this very exciting form of debate with some of the best debate schools from across the U.S., Canada, and England.”
The Hobart and William Smith debate team hopes to continue their success in upcoming debates at West Point on March 9 and Skidmore on March 21. The team will also have the opportunity to debate against the Oxford team in New York City on April 10.