In India, College debaters take on the world

Over winter break, the College’s Society for Parliamentary Debate competed in an international debating tournament, World Universities Debating Championship, held in Chennai, India.

Schools around the world send delegates to Chennai. (AP Photo)
Schools around the world send delegates to Chennai. (AP Photo)

Fivemembers of the debate team were sent to compete in India: four competitors, Zachary Ellis, Prashanth Palvannan, Arjun Gupta and Society president Andrew Miller, and one judge, Zachary Myshkoff.

“All five of them are extremely active members in (the Society) and are fantastic debaters,” sophomore psychology and English double major and publicist for the Society Steven Schwering said.

According to Schwering, “Worlds is the culmination of years of work for our most experienced debaters.” To properly prepare for the club’s most prestigious tournament, the debate team conducts fundraisers and activities as well as hosting debates on campus for high school tournaments.

“People come from all over, and it’s so interesting to see how much we have in common while things differ around the world,” junior biology major Gupta said.

The World Universities Debating Championship is an international parliamentary-style debate tournament that takes place in a different country every year. For 33 years, “Worlds,” as it is known in the debating society, has traveled across North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. However, this year is the first time that it has taken home to South Asia.

“Worlds” is the world’s largest debating tournament and the largest annual international student events in the world, according to the “Worlds” website.

The Society for Parliamentary Debate has been sending competitors to the renowned competition for three years.

“Our team sends people to the Worlds University Debating Championship because it is a great opportunity to see other debaters from across the globe and to see some of the finest debating possible,” Schwering said. “I know from participants’ experiences that everyone enjoys the opportunity very much.”

The Society chooses who competes in the “Worlds” competition through a specific formula that factors in debate victories from previous competitions and popular vote.

The “Worlds” competition includes over 1,000 students from universities around the world and consists of nine preliminary rounds. With the conclusion of these rounds, the top 48 teams enter single elimination rounds. This year, the tournament lasted from Thursday, Dec. 26, to Thursday, Jan. 9.

“Unfortunately, neither of our teams broke,” junior political science major Myshkoff said. “But both teams did well and put forth solid performances.”

Though the Society competitors did not proceed into the single elimination rounds, the experience in India was a positive one.

“Overall, the experience is amazing, mostly because of the awesome people you meet while competing,” Gupta said.

Topics in the parliamentary debate included economics, social topics, public policy and more.

“The issues we debate about like politics, society, morals etc. are things that everyone deals with, but everyone’s experiences with those (topics) differ,” Gupta said. “It shapes the way people look at the world, and it’s incredibly fascinating to debate with such a global perspective.”