Debate Without Borders: Colgate Debates the University of Kabul on Skype!

On April 5, 2013 three members of the Debate Society participated in the 2013 Debate Without Borders Skype Tournament, organized by Afghans for Progressive Thinking. Anna Proios ’16 and Lorelai Avram ’16 debated, while Alexa Windsor ’13 judged. The other teams and judges were from other North American universities, China, and Afghanistan. Given the time difference between the US and Afghanistan, the debate started on Friday at 8:30 a.m. in Kabul, which was Thursday at 11:30 p.m. at Colgate University.

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Anna and Lorelai debated a team from Kabul University, supporting the motion: “This house would subsidize Wikipedia.” The two Colgate debaters found it very interesting to debate with a team from another country, because of the different perspective it provided. For example, one of the arguments of the proposition (Colgate) was that the government should subsidize Wikipedia because the online encyclopedia is easily accessible to a very large segment of the North-American population and the world population–the government would be funding something beneficial to a lot of its citizens, as well as to the rest of the world. The opposition (Kabul University) replied by stating that in countries like Afghanistan, only 7% of the population has access to the Internet, so perhaps the United States should use these funds in order to ensure a basic level of education for all people, rather than put money into a website that is doing just fine.

Alexa judged a team from Tulane University debating against a team from Malwana Institute, Afghanistan on the motion “This house believes that the internet is eroding local cultures.”

It was also very interesting for the debaters and the judge alike to try a new debating style: the International Public Debate Association style (IPDA), which consists of two teams, as opposed to four teams in the British Parliamentary style of debate. Also, in the IPDA style the teams engage in constructive speeches, and cross-examinations. Furthermore, the tournament was a “display tournament,” which reduced the usual pressure, and made the debate more about the exchange of ideas, rather than about winning the tournament.

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