Some of the country’s top collegiate debate teams arrive on campus this month for Hobart and William Smith’s annual fall debate tournament, the HWS IV.
The tournament, which will begin Friday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. and run throughout the weekend, includes 140 teams from 35 institutions. Debates in the Sanford and Geneva Rooms in the Warren Hunting Smith Library will be open to the public, as will the Grand Final Debate, beginning Sunday, Sept. 30 at 3:45 p.m. in Albright Auditorium.
“When most people think about a debate, they think about a political debate between candidates for office. These bear little resemblance to actual debates where people genuinely respond to each other’s arguments, with the goal of showing a deeper understanding of the subtle problems underlying controversial issues,” says Eric Barnes, associate professor of philosophy and coach of the HWS Debate Team. “Competitive debates are filled with adrenaline, logic and a stunning display of mental dexterity. Who knew critical thinking could be so much fun to watch?”
During the tournament, the HWS Debate Team will honor the late assistant coach Steven Penner, who passed away in June. A highly regarded adjudicator, administrator, coach and debater, Penner joined the HWS community in 2014 and helped grow the team, broadened the range of tournaments its members compete in and developed a reputation for excellence and collegiality. He helped establish the HWS Round Robin as the international tournament of champions, and transformed the Colleges’ annual fall tournament into one of the most prestigious in North America.
Indeed, the 2018 HWS IV’s Adjudication Core — the senior judges who set the topics and oversee the judging of the debates — also constitute the adjudication core of the upcoming 2019 World Championships in Cape Town. This group includes:
* Dan Lahav, top speaker at the 2018 World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) and 2017 HWS Round Robin;
* Fanele Mashwam, 2016 WUDC champion and 2015 HWS Round Robin finalist;
* Ameera Natasha Moore, Champion of Asian British Parliamentary Debating Championships, the Cambridge IV and many other tournaments;
* and Steph White, chief adjudicator of the 2018 Australian Championships and previous two-time winner of the Australian Championships.
Most recently, the HWS Debate Team won the prestigious Hart House IV Championship and advanced to the elimination rounds at the Yale IV and the U.S. National Championships. The team also competed in the final round of the highly competitive Colgate Open, won the novice division of the Eastern U.S. Championships and won the open division of both the Brad Smith Invitational at the University of Rochester and the Cornell Inter-Varsity tournaments.