Students Compete in Inter-House Debate Tournament

News  /  by Shaezmina Khan '19  /  October 06, 2017

Ivy Zhang '19 / The Lawrence

Yesterday, Speech and Debate Club hosted its second annual Inter-House Grand Debate Tournament from 6:30 to 8:00 PM in the Heely Room. Although Matt Gunton ’18, one of Speech and Debate Club’s co-presidents, was the primary organizer of the event, Riley Rogerson ’18 and Kevin Xiao ’19, the other co-presidents, also helped organized the tournament.

Describing the event, Matt Gunton’ 18 said, “We start off with sixteen students that all represent a different House on campus. There are eight matches in the first round, and a single elimination. If you lose, you are out for the night, but if you win, you continue to compete in the next round—a spectacular event overall.”

The last two students in the tournament—Cameron Desnoes ’19 of the Hamill House and Elaine Wang ’20 of the Carter House—will compete for first place in school meeting on Thursday, November 9.

Gunton and Rogerson along with the rest of the council created the prompts for the tournament.

Rogerson said, “We really wanted our prompts to be accessible to anyone in the Lawrenceville community because you get them thirty seconds before you have to debate. They are all pretty straightforward topics.”

Gunton added, “The most important thing while deciding the prompts is making sure they are fair-- you have to be able to debate it on both sides of the argument.”

For each round, students were given a specific prompt to debate: whether community service should be a requirement to graduate at Lawrenceville, whether Lawrenceville should keep the current wifi restrictions in place, and lastly, whether the School should have a language requirement.

While speaking about how the judges for the tournament were chosen, Gunton said:

“We chose the judges solely off of who we had heard, from students, were most fair and would could recognize a good argument.”

This year’s judges are Religion and Philosophy Master Jason VonWachenfeldt, English Master Marta Napiorkowska, History Master David S. Figueroa-Ortiz P'18, Speech and Debate Coach Carolyn Beard, English Master Pier Kooistra P’19, Religion and Philosophy master Phillip Jordan ’85, and Rabbi Lauren Levy H’97 ’01 P’01 ’02 ’09. Students were judged on the following categories: opening speech, crossfire, and closing speech.

Cameron Desnoes ‘19, a participant in this year’s tournament, said that “GDT is a phenomenal as it really encourages students to get out there and focus on their debate skills. It’s really amazing.”

Speaking about the event as a whole, Rogerson said, “I think it was an awesome event and we had a great turnout. I really saw some talented speakers and debaters and am looking forward to the final round at school meeting.”

“The Inter-House Debate Tournament is another way for us to celebrate our differences in opinion: diversity,” Toby Ilogu ’19 said, “I actually can’t wait to see the finalists at school meeting in November.”