The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Debate Society: Connection Through Competition

Instagram / @colgatedebate

The Debate Society is one of the many clubs at Colgate University that offers students a place to develop their public speaking and argumentation skills. The Debate Society competes in a style of debate called British Parliamentary, in which members have fifteen minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech and debate the topic without consulting any outside information. Students of all experience levels can join the Debate Society, but even for the more seasoned members, the British Parliamentary style offers a challenge to them.

“It was like starting all over again,” first-year Molly O’Brien said. “It’s an adjustment. In high school, you had months to prepare, and here you have 15 minutes.” 

Vice President Sophia Wlodek explained that competing in the style comes with benefits.

“[It gives you] confidence in your own knowledge because you’re not allowed to use any outside materials,” Wlodek said. “[It allows] you to trust your instincts.” 

President Brenna McConnell agrees that this competition style allows you to think outside the box and be creative.

“It has helped me think extemporaneously and be more creative with my ideas [and have] confidence speaking in front of other people.” McConnell said. 

Members spend four hours practicing each week. During the Fall semester, this time is spent teaching new members the ropes of the British Parliamentary debate style and helping returning members freshen up their skills. Building a community within the group is another important aspect of the time members’ spend together.

“You enter with a partner when you debate. You go through the tournament together. So getting that dynamic down is also important,” Wlodek said.

Much of the club’s bonding comes from the time they spend together when traveling for competitions. McConnell recalls her favorite memory from the club from their trip to France last spring. 

“We were all really tired and went out to this cafe,” McConnell said. “The whole team was sitting there. We were complaining about stupid things that happened in the tournament and talking about our lives, [and got to] learn about who others are as people, not just as debaters.”

Attending international competitions gives the team the opportunity to travel to places like France and Spain. In December, they will travel to Vietnam to compete in an international tournament. The community Debate Society builds for its members reaches far beyond Colgate’s campus. 

“You get to meet people from countries I’ve never even been to,” Wlodek said. “So that kind of whole community aspect is really nice. [We get] to meet them on a common ground, as well, which helps make those relationships.”

Whether members join for pre-professional reasons or for the love of debate, the Debate Society at Colgate offers anyone interested a unique opportunity to connect with fellow classmates as well as competitors throughout the world.

More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Colgate Maroon-News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *