Written by: Mike Weltevrede
The 40th edition of the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) has started. This time, it takes place on the campus of Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand. The Netherlands is represented by one team: Saskia Bergmann and Nikola Michaylov. There are two (former) Dutch debaters judging the competition: Huyen Nguyen (formerly EDS, also serving as language officer) and Angela Portocarrero (formerly UDS). In this article, we will give a short insight into the first three rounds of the competition. In summary, Saskia and Nikola were able to snatch 6 out of 9 points and both Angela and Huyen were honoured to chair all three rounds.
You can follow the progress of Saskia and Nikola, Angela, and Huyen on Tabbycat. If you want to see some of the debates, they are streaming some of them to their Facebook page. We also welcome your thoughts on the motions on day 1. You can submit these at the bottom of the page
Let us first look at the motion for the first round of the “World Cup”. There was an infoslide that read:
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is legally required to cover the news impartially. This means:
1. It cannot take sides on controversial issues.
2. The amount of coverage each viewpoint gets should roughly reflect the level of support that viewpoint has in society.
3. It is not required to be neutral on certain fundamental issues like the rule of law and the legitimacy of the democratic process.
The motion accompanying this infoslide read:
This House would impose a BBC-style impartiality requirement on all news platforms.
It is important to note that WUDC policy has changed to partially anonymise team names so that one cannot deduce the institution of the teams. Before last year’s WUDC, teams were shown on the tab as Harvard A or Oxford C, whereas they are now shown as Johnson & Gibbs or (in the case of the Dutch team) as Bergmann & Michaylov. Saskia and Nikola managed to win this round from Closing Government.
The second round of the day did not feature an infoslide. The teams debated on the motion:
This House supports the rapid global elimination of both tariff and non-tariff barriers to free trade.
Of course, because Saskia and Nikola managed to win the first round, they faced off against teams that also won round 1. As such, one would expect the room to be more difficult. Unfortunately, the other teams were too strong for Saskia and Nikola, probably coupled with the complexity of the motion, and they had to take the 4th while in Opening Opposition.
The last round of the day was again introduced with an infoslide, namely:
Indoctrination means teaching someone to accept beliefs uncritically. In the case of religion, this can include (but is not limited to) emphasising strict adherence to religious teachings and not presenting alternative viewpoints.
Saskia and Nikola were Closing Opposition on the following motion:
This House would allow children to sue their parents for religious indoctrination.
Personally, I think this motion is extremely interesting and I am looking forward to hearing some of the lines of argumentation brought at the WUDC. Saskia and Nikola, motivated after the disappointing result in Round 2, found new energy and blasted through their opponents, taking the 1st place. This means that at the end of the first day, they managed to reach so-called ‘straights’ (which means the number of points as if the team only received 2nd places), i.e. 6 points. This is a beautiful start for them and we hope that they do just as well on day 2!