Despite the global pandemic forcing tournaments to move online, the HWS Debate squad has continued to show they are very competitive against the strongest schools on the North American circuit.
The HWS varsity squad started and ended the first semester of the 2020-2021 debate season with strong showings. HWS Debate advanced two teams to elimination rounds at the 2020 United States University Debating Championships in October, which HWS has not done since 2013. The team of Bart Lahiff’20 and Sarim Karim ’22 made it to the quarterfinals, a very strong showing.
After Nationals, Sreyan Kanungo ’23 and Sarim Karim ’22 competed at the Hart House IV, one of the premier tournaments in North America, where they again were one of the few teams to qualify for elimination rounds. After hard-fought rounds, the pair finished as quarter finalists. This significant accomplishment at a major international tournament is a great sign for the future success of this pair of HWS debaters as they move forward into the rest of the season.
William Lewis ’23 and Elise Donovan ’22 also saw success as they advanced to elimination rounds at the Huber Debate tournament hosted by the University of Vermont. The pair, which had advanced to the novice finals the previous year, went in with the mentality of repeating their success. They finished as varsity semi-finalists.
Debaters are also recognized individually as speakers. Eesha Anjum ’23 was awarded the fifth best ESL speaker at the Huber Debates. Kanungo was recognized as the fourth best ESL speaker at Hart House with Karim placing ninth in the same category. Kanungo and Anjum serve as the team’s Vice President and Travel Tzar, respectively.
In addition to debating, members of the team serve as judges who watch and rank debates. Judges are either allocated as panelists or chair judges, the latter being the highest ranked judge in the room. Throughout the competition, judges are ranked and promoted to higher positions if they do well. Robert Coakley ’23 was promoted to a chair judge for the first time since he started debating last year at the Doxbridge IV, a tournament co-hosted by Durham, Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
As the team heads into a break and the upcoming spring semester, they look forward to continued success as they navigate the COVID-19 world of online debating.
The photo above features an HWS Debate team practice in 2019.