Students debate topics in biannual ‘War of the Words’

By Ellie Schuckman
News Assistant

Sisko moderates the comical yet heated debates at the fifth biannual ‘War of the Words.’ (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)
Sisko moderates the comical yet heated debates at the fifth biannual ‘War of the Words.’ (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)

There were several fierce debates between the College’s Society for Parliamentary Debate and members of the Philosophy Society at the fifth biannual “War of the Words.” There were some serious topics, but most debates centered on funny topics, including the highly anticipated kittens vs. mittens.

The event, which took place in the Social Science Atrium on Monday, Nov. 10, saw heated arguments in favor and opposed to topics such as pride vs. humility, atoms vs. void and talent vs. effort.

“It is better in such a debate setting and in such a confined time-frame to debate something silly, because you don’t need to actually go in-depth, you just throw out a few reasons on both sides, then see who can rebut them better,” said Joey Worthington, a sophomore history major who argued in favor of mittens. “You are given the opportunity to just have some fun, make some jokes and try to win the audience.”

Following the debates, winners for the best arguments were announced, each of whom received a $25 gift card. Participants had two minutes each to discuss a view initially and then make a new argument after the other had spoken. Of the invited speakers, junior history and philosophy double major Steven Rodriguez and Worthington took the top crowns, while junior history and classical studies double major Zachary Bradley Elliott, junior philosophy major Kimberly Feldman, sophomore chemistry major Marc Casale and junior biology major Mitch Vaughn won from the floor.

“(The topics) were very interesting,” Vaughn said. “It is a challenge picking two things barely related and comparing them.”

The topics were contrived by both the debate and philosophy societies and ultimately selected by John Sisko, professor of philosophy, religion and classical studies and the moderator and judge of the debates.

In the two and a half years that the debates have taken place, the setting has always been more relaxed, with the “look of a pop-up event,” thus encouraging more individuals and those simply passing by to partake in the discussions, Sisko said.

“It’s about placing important emphasis on oral skills,” he said. 

In the talent vs. effort debate, questions arose on whether the two can exist without each other, with the debaters questioning the legitimacy of what the other had to say.

“It is hard to really justify why talent or effort, humility or pride, or atoms or void is more important, since they require the other to be useful at all,” Worthington said. “Neither of those is particularly useful on their own, so it becomes difficult to really have a good argument to justify one of them being better than the other.”

The event had about 60 students in attendance, according to Sisko.