This spring, the Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Round Robin welcomes the 16 best debate teams to campus for one of the world’s most prestigious international tournaments. From Thursday, April 5 through Saturday, April 7, the 12th Annual Round Robin will feature student teams from Yale University, Oxford University, University of Cape Town, the National University of Singapore, Stanford University, and Harvard University, the 2018 World Champions.
“We have made a name for ourselves for running fantastic tournaments,” says Joshua Harper ’19, vice president of HWS Debate. “We as a team get to show the entire community our dynamic and enduring ability to rise to an occasion. When all is said and done, we get the satisfaction of setting the bar high for what qualifies as a world-class tournament.”
While the Colleges regularly earn victories against top teams in other tournaments, the rules prohibit the HWS team from competing while hosting the Round Robin. Most recently, HWS Debate won the 2017 U.S. Eastern Regional Novice Championship, advanced to the octo-finals of the 2016 US National Championship and advanced to the finals of the 2016 Colgate Open.
“I firmly believe that the kind of debating we do is the modern version of Socratic inquiry and, in many ways, the embodiment of a liberal arts education,” says Director of HWS Debate and Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes.
Last spring, Bartholomew Lahiff ’20 and Jesse Maltese ’20 won the Novice Final after competing against nearly 100 teams at the Eastern Regional World Championships at George Washington University. After outstanding records of achievement at the Colleges, team members have won the prestigious Hart House IV Championship, joined the State Department and enlisted in the Peace Corps.
This year’s Round Robin will also feature a keynote address from John Sexton, the former president of New York University and former dean of NYU School of Law. Recognized as one of the best debate coaches of the past 50 years by Emory University, Sexton is the board chair of the Associated Leaders of Urban Debate (ALOUD), a nonprofit that creates debate teams in underserved communities across the U.S.
“Every Round Robin debate promises that you will be watching excellent speeches, that your personal beliefs may change, and that, by the end of the debate, everyone will leave the room with more nuanced understandings of the world around us,” says Haley Giunta ’18.