This year marks the 80th anniversary of Oxford University's historic trip to the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus. In 1928, Hobart was brought to the “fore as the only small college in the United States to be chosen to debate with Oxford University on a question both timely and of exceptional interest to the American people,” according to a quote from a Nov. 2, 1928 article in the Herald. The two schools debated over the issues of the U.S. joining the League of Nations.
Oxford will return to campus this weekend when Hobart and William Smith host the Second Annual Round Robin Debate Tournament. Then, the HWS debate team will have a long-awaited rematch with the prominent Oxford team in New York City on April 10, when they debate on the controversial subject of compensation for wrongly incarcerated individuals.
HWS became an innovator last year when it hosted the first ever round robin tournament in British Parliamentary style. This style consists of four teams of two speakers debating at a time. Teams from 16 prestigious institutions will compete in this manner. Each team will have 15 minutes after the motion has been announced to prepare with only printed or written materials. This style requires a great extent of knowledge and preparation by the teams, as they must be well versed on all current events for the five rounds of highly competitive debate.
Faculty adviser to the HWS team, Eric Barnes, explains the event as an “international all-star game.”
The quality of the competition this year is very high, representing a significant step toward in establishing this tournament as a major event on the international debating circuit. The following schools will have the opportunity to compete against each other: University of Alaska, Harvard University, Swarthmore College, Amherst College, University of LaVerne, University of Toronto, The Claremont Colleges, Oxford University, University of Vermont, Colgate University, Portland State University, Vassar College, Cornell University, Queens University, Yale University and Seattle University.
In conjunction with the tournament, the Hobart and William Smith debate team announces their partnership with the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), a part of the Soros Foundations' Open Society Institute, which will support an increase in international representation for the event in future years.
The HWS debate team encourages all to attend the final round of debate at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 in St. John's Chapel. Admission is free.