First Annual International Debate Held by Colgate Debate Society

On Saturday, March 27, Colgate’s first annual International Debate Tournament commenced. Hailing from ten different schools, 24 teams of two participated in the two-day event. Colgate’s Debate Society hosted and ran the tournament, but did not participate. Among the schools participating in the tournament were University Sydney Union, the second-ranked debate team in the world, and Rhodes University from South Africa.

According to junior and President of the Debate Society Austin Schwartz, plans for this tournament began in June.

“We have been working hard since then to get a strong judging pool and to promote the tournament to teams around the world,” Schwartz said. Schwartz coordinated the tournament with the help of Colgate Speaking Coordinator and Debate Advisor John Adams, who was extremely influential in the planning process.

The tournament consisted of six rounds, a semi-final and a final. During each round, the teams were given 15 minutes to prepare for each motion, after which they were split into various rooms in Lathrop and Lawrence Halls.

Motions debated included topics such as parental control over children’s social networking accounts, the possibility of the expulsion of religiously affiliated Non-Governmental Associations from Africa and the use of females in advertising products not intended for women. Each team was randomly assigned a stance on the debate and a room in which they would be debating.

For each round of the debate, two teams spoke for the motion and two other teams spoke in opposition. Each team member had approximately seven minutes to argue his or her case, and questions from the opposing teams were taken throughout the debate, but only when the student debating allowed it.

According to Schwartz, each round was judged based on the quality of argumentation, analysis, presentation, as well as an array of other qualifying factors. Included in the judging panel were the Irish National Champion, the US National Champion and the Chief Adjudicator Logandran Balavijendran, who is the Chief Adjudicator at the World Universities Debating Championships in Botswana.

The last few rounds of debate on the second day of the event were held in Love Auditorium in Olin. Following the preliminary six rounds, University of Sydney Union, Rhodes University, Hobart and Williams Smith (HWS), Kings, Laverne and Cornell advanced to the semi-finals. University of Sydney Union, Rhodes University, HWS and Cornell advanced to the finals. The motion argued in this final round was “The house will legalize duels to the death.” Following this round, the judges announced that University of Sydney Union was the unanimous champion, with Cornell coming in second, with a four-to-one split.

Helping to fund the event was the President’s Office, the Dean of the College, the Colgate Speaking Union, The Center for Leadership & Student Involvement (CLSI) and the Budget Allocating Committee (BAC). Although Colgate’s Debate Society was busy running the tournament and did not participate in the international debate competition, they will be participating in the US National Championship on April 9 through April 11 in Denver, Colorado.

According to Schwartz, the tournament’s success is an understatement.

“I set some pretty high goals for this tournament, and we exceeded them all. I honestly would not change a single thing about how the tournament was run,” Schwartz said. Now that a sound infrastructure for the tournament has been established, Schwartz hopes the tournament will become an annual competition.