NYUAD Debate Teams see success in Hong Kong, Oxford

Following months of preparation that involved weekly debates as well as guest speakers on specialized issues, NYU Abu Dhabi broke into to the ...

Nov 21, 2015

Following months of preparation that involved weekly debates as well as guest speakers on specialized issues, NYU Abu Dhabi broke into to the semifinals at the Hong Kong Debate Open and to the finals at the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition. This marks the first time NYUAD has progressed into the semifinals at Hong Kong as well as the ESL finals at the renowned Oxford IVs.
Each semester, the NYUAD Debate Union sends representative teams, selected through a rigorous trial process, to compete in two international tournaments.
These tournaments involve a series of preliminary rounds that determine a team’s entrance into the breaking rounds. If teams lose in these rounds, they are eliminated from the tournament. With at least five preliminary rounds at each tournament, motions are given 15 minutes beforehand for teams to prepare a seven minute speech. At most tournaments, the motions are diverse enough to test debaters’ knowledge of current affairs and their ability to apply such knowledge to their arguments.
At Hong Kong, the motions ranged from heated political topics such as the West’s diplomatic partnership with Saudi Arabia to social propositions for providing free college education as a poverty alleviation tool. The three NYUAD teams were comprised of senior Andres Rodriguez and sophomore Justin Lee, junior Dominique Lear and sophomore Aziz Erkinjonov and senior Megan Eloise and junior Alhan Fakhar.
With over 210 teams competing for 32 spots, two out of three NYUAD teams broke into the octofinals in Hong Kong, debating the motion that states should financially incentivize inter-ethnic marriage. With arguments on both sides centered around state responsibility and the effectiveness of the resolution, both NYUAD teams surfaced victorious and progressed to the quarterfinals. The 16 remaining teams then debated the dominant narrative of women as nonviolent and vulnerable in conflicts and humanitarian crises. Given the enormity of the topic, the teams contested the principles and efficacy of such a dominant view.
A hundred and thirty seven teams worldwide attended Oxford IV 2015. Debates in the preliminary rounds revolved around U.S. immigration policy, hate crimes and boycotting the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, among other issues. Two teams represented NYUAD at the tournament: senior Andres Rodriguez and junior Rene Kukk as well as sophomore Patrick Reid and Megan Eloise. Junior Dhia Fairus Shofia Fani and sophomore Dmitry Dobrovolskiy joined the teams as adjudicators. After the preliminary rounds, Rodriguez and Kukk advanced to the ESL Semifinal and Final rounds. The motion for the semi-final was: “This house would not accept ‘I was only following orders’ as a defence in war crimes trials.” The final motion was: “This house regrets the institutions of marriage and civil partnership.”
The Debate Union at NYUAD continues to promote debate internally and externally through biweekly meetings on Mondays and Saturdays, often involving guest speakers as well as friendlies with regional universities. Each year, the Union holds the NYUAD Open in the spring, inviting over 30 different universities across the UAE to compete. Last year, the tournament even served as an impetus for debate clubs to form at other universities. This year, the Union hopes to continue to foster interests in debate and public speaking at large.
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