Colgate Hosts Debate Tournament

Luke Parauda

Colgate University hosted the fifth annual Colgate IV Debate Tournament on March 29 and 30. There were 72 teams of two people each who came from a variety of schools along with 50 judges. Colgate students did not participate in the debates, but the Colgate Debate Society students were involved in judging and coordinating the event.

“This is the fifth year that the Debate Society is hosting a tournament and it’s grown every year,” Colgate Debate Society President sophomore Julia O’Neil said.

The Colgate Open, as the tournament is called, truly comprised the whole weekend. It began at 8 a.m. on Saturday night and went right until 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening, with a break after 8 p.m. Saturday night. There were five rounds of preliminary debates before teams were selected to advance to the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

The tournament is formatted as a British Parliamentary debate, which puts four teams to a room and allows each team member to speak for seven minutes, putting each round of debates at about an hour in length. The topics are announced only 15 minutes prior to the debate, meaning the participants must adapt their arguments and make quick decisions.

The participants became true competitors, yelling and arguing intently, with some groups even throwing out occasional expletives.  The topics ranged from U.S. foreign policy to the media to Putin’s recent actions towards Ukraine.

The debates were hosted all across Colgate’s campus, from Lawrence Hall to the Ho Science Center to Lathrop Hall, with the O’Connor Campus Center serving as the home base for announcements, meals and presentation of trophies.

“The teams are coming from all over the world from places such as India, Germany, England, California and Florida,” O’Neil said.

There were teams from Cornell University, McGill University, St. John’s University, Carleton University, Cambridge University and the University of Vermont, among many others. Teams stayed at the Wendt University Inn a few miles from campus in Hamilton.

The winners of the Colgate Open were the team of AJ Cormier and Simon Cameron from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Two Colgate students served as judges for the final debate. However, the top individual speaker prize was presented to Cornell University Debate coach and graduate student Paul Gross.

“I’ve had a great time, I’ve really enjoyed the tournament,” Gross said.

The later rounds on Sunday were available for livestream online and all rounds were open to the public and the Colgate community.

Contact Luke Parauda at [email protected]