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

An Arguably Good Trip: Colgate Debate Society Travels to Vietnam

Printed with permission of Brenna McConnell

Over winter break, eight Colgate University Debate Society members traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to compete in the World’s University Debating Championship (WUDC). 

WUDC is a student-run tournament held in a different continent every year. Over 800 teams gather to debate in the British Parliamentary style. Senior Brenna McConnell is the Debate Society President, and she explained that the tournament is a unique experience to meet peers from all across the globe. 

“I think part of what makes WUDC so awesome is that there is a massive breadth of different teams that you meet that you probably wouldn’t meet otherwise; it’s a truly international pool,” McConnell said.

Members were selected to participate in the tournament through a tryout judged by debate alumni.

Junior and Vice President of the Debate Society Sophie Lee-Wlodek explained the process of selecting what team members would attend the conference.

“For all international tournaments, we do tryouts,” Lee-Wlodek said. “Typically, we will send three debate teams and two judges, so eight people in total. And we have our faculty advisors.” 

This is the second year since COVID-19 that WUDC was held in person. McConnell explained how the in-person debating experience is more powerful and provides students with better opportunities to learn. 

“My first two years of Debate Society, everything was online and World’s were held online as well,” McConnell said. “There were in-person World’s last year but this is the second year back in person. I think for our team it’s been huge to have these really exciting, dynamic events in person because you learn a lot more as a debater that way.”

With the ability to travel again, membership in the Society has also grown since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are really growing back from COVID-19,” Lee-Wlodek said. “Our membership really was in the drain during COVID-19 because we weren’t traveling so it wasn’t as fun. But as we’re growing back, we are becoming more serious again.”

The trip began with debating in the preliminary rounds of the tournament and then the team was able to explore the city. 

“The tournament was around four or five days — those were the preliminary rounds that everyone debated in,” Lee-Wlodek said. “Then the top 48 teams will continue to the out rounds, or final rounds. Since we didn’t make it, we were able to do some touristy things.”

Sophomore Amy Zhou said that although the team didn’t make it into the final rounds, the group appreciated the opportunity to visit museums and attractions. 

“Nobody on our team got into the finals, which was fine by us because we were really eager to explore the city and everything,” Zhou said. “It was incredible. I’m also a history major, so it was definitely a really educational and different experience for me.”

Though most of the team consisted of debaters, judges were also brought to the tournament. Zhou was one of two judges present and said judging gave her a unique perspective when participating in the tournament. 

“I really enjoy judging because you have to pay attention to everybody’s arguing to get everything down. The adjudication process is very interesting to me,” Zhou said.  

McConnell said she felt grateful to be a student at Colgate University, as the school was able to cover the expenses of the trip making it more accessible.

“We’re lucky at Colgate because we’re an institution with pretty decent funding, and we get the opportunity to go on these trips and they’re able to pay for us,” McConnell said. “I really appreciate that it’s equitable and inclusive so anyone who wants to can get involved.”

Though they didn’t make it to the finals, McConnell said that she was still very pleased with her team’s accomplishments. 

“I’m really proud of all my teammates for putting their best effort and getting the most they possibly could out of it. All of us were able to actually get points and do well in terms of placements in our individual rounds,” McConnell said. “I was really happy to see that because most of the team we brought were underclassmen, so it’s huge for them to get this experience now.”

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 *