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Tufts Debate Society hosts annual tournament

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 22:12

The Tufts Debate Society (TDS) held its annual debate tournament on campus over the weekend, hosting teams from universities across the region.

70 teams from about 20 schools across the greater Northeast region, including Boston University, Harvard University and Wellesley College, came to Tufts to compete in the tournament, according to TDS President Noah Kirsch, a sophomore. All participating schools are members of the American Parliamentary Debate Association.

“We have this debate tournament every year on this debate circuit,” TDS Vice President Rajarshi Chatterji, a senior, said. “Every university brings something of its own to the table and Tufts has a pretty big reputation on the circuit. We’re hosting our tournament on the same weekend as Vassar, but we still had a huge turnout.”

The tournament was run under a parliamentary debate format, in which two teams are pitted against each other to debate any topic that is proposed, according to Kirsch.

“Parliamentary style is a highly extemporaneous way of debate,” he said. “The topic changes every debate round, and no pre−gathered evidence is allowed. It’s almost entirely logic−based, and humor is used to make certain points.”

“It requires you to have a general knowledge of basically everything in the world,” Chatterji added.

The rounds were split into novice teams and varsity teams, with the Harvard Chipoltleaway team winning first place for the novice teams and the Brandeis Navajo Blanket team finishing on top for the varsity teams. Peter Falk from Northeastern University received the highest speaking points for novice speakers, and Reid Bagwell from Columbia University placed first among the varsity speakers.

TDS members did not compete in the tournament, instead serving as the judges, Chatterji said.

“Judging was definitely different than debating, since we had to evaluate the teams based on their points and see which side outweighs the other,” TDS member Jerry Hu, a freshman, said. “Being a judge can help you know what the judges are looking for, so after this, I will be more aware of the kinds of things I can focus on in the future.”

This year, Chipotle Mexican Grill sponsored the tournament, providing lunch for all the competitors, Kirsch said.

Kirsch noted that since the formation of TDS in 2005, the team has continued to grow in size and strength.

There are 20 members in the club, each of which was selected from a pool of 37 applicants during tryouts at the beginning of the year, according to Chatterji.

“We have a lot of novices, or new recruits, so we’re in training mode for a lot of our team,” Kirsch said.

Lack of experience has not held the team back from success, however.

“About two weeks back, one of our novice teams was the runner up at the Wesleyan tournament,” Chatterji said.

Kirsch and Chatterji encouraged students to try out for TDS next year, regardless of class year or experience level.

“We take people of any class, and we don’t actually require people to be good at debate; we just require them to improve as fast as they can,” Chatterji said.

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