Written by Huyen Nguyen
Interview Novi Sad EUDC 2018
2018 marks the 20th installment of the European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC), which will take place in Novi Sad, Serbia. At the end of July, hundreds of debaters from all across Europe will travel to the Championship to debate, party and make new friends! The Dutch delegation is of course well represented, with almost every society sending teams and judges. But, teams and judges are not the only representatives of the Dutch debating community. Daan Welling and Gigi Gil have been selected to become Deputy Chief Adjudicators of the Chief Adjudication team at Novi Sad EUDC. Both Daan and Gigi are of course famous Dutch debaters, who themselves have achieved many great things at past EUDC’s. Time to get to know them a bit more and see how they are experiencing the whole build-up for the biggest European tournament of the year. 720 reporter Huyen talked with both of them!
How did you decide to apply for DCA spot at EUDC 2018?
Gigi: I was nominated actually. Until I was notified I had been nominated, I had not seriously thought about it. Then I was like “Actually it sounds like a lot of fun”, and if people consider me qualified then it’s worth applying. And to be honest, I just really enjoy CA-ing.
Daan: I think the selfish part of my reasoning is that, I had just been part of the core organizing team for Dutch Worlds, which took a lot of time and effort to prepare, and I found I didn’t really get the chance to enjoy it. For most of my generation of debaters, Worlds would’ve been the peak of my career and I wanted to enjoy that peak. Given I didn’t, I wanted to take another shot at leaving university debate on a high note. But more importantly, obviously you don’t just want to apply to something just to get something, but because you also have something to offer. And in my regard, what I have to offer the team was a healthy dose of experience, particularly running large internationals. I think most people, when thinking of being a CA team, think primarily about motion setting. Although that is an important task, tournaments of this size also require us to recruit judges and keep in close contact with the Org Com. I thought that was the part that I could play a role, that’s why I applied.
What do you think about the emergency switch from Scottish to Novi Sad EUDC? Any specific changes to your duty as a DCA in EUDC because of this incidence?
Gigi: Obviously it’s just regrettable how things happened. I’d say I’m most impressed and most overwhelmed by how amazing it is that people were willing to take over. That’s just wild, they really really are competent, and we are very grateful! I don’t think much has changed for us. The OrgCom has been really nice and open to us. The other CAs like Duncan and Olivia do so much more with regards to communicating with the orgcom anyway.So it’s been pretty smooth for us in terms of transition, it just was like a break in time, we couldn’t do anything between the two switches. Now everything is pretty smooth sailing, to be honest.
Daan: Euros is run by volunteers, which is crazy for a big event with such a massive budget. The budget of Euros regularly reaches near half a million, you have to accommodate over 600 people over a week. And all of that is done on a volunteer basis with no pay, and perhaps more importantly, all the work is done alongside people’s degrees. So any organization that says “We’re willing to host it”, beyond being slightly crazy, is an organization that I think we should all be incredibly grateful for. Given those numbers and the tasks, it is not completely weird that a bid sometimes fails to materialize. I’m not old enough to have experienced it myself before, but it has happened before, and I think it will happen again in the future. Moving onto Novi Sad, I am incredibly happy with Jovan. He and his team are working amazingly around the clock, and the fact that they are able to secure things this late in the game, I think, is truly a testament to their commitment to debating. Insofar as we needed to switch away from Scotland, I don’t think we could have asked for a better team to take up the amount of organizing a Euros in such a short fashion.
My duty as a DCA has not really changed. We all work with small teams. We are very fortunate to have Olivia and Duncan as incredibly hard-working CAs, and I think the organization has been made in such a way that they are able to do different tasks efficiently. So we are just doing the normal things as we do as DCAs. We are working both on the motions and on getting Independent Adjudicators in. If you are working with such a large organization, you can’t try to be the one that is aware of everything that’s going on. As that is such an impossible job, it’s only really the convenor’s task. And I think what we need to do is to make sure that the convenor’s life is better, by not trying to engage in his business, but rather do our businesses well.
How is the working collaboration going with the new Org Comm team from Serbia?
Gigi: We speak mostly with Jovan, and Jovan is just a f*cking “trooper”. He works very very very hard, and is super motivated. Also not just to run Euros to make everything excellent, he’s putting us on the spot, i.e the pressure that is exactly what we need from OrgCom. So I think he’s pretty phenomenal.
Daan: Similar as in my answer in previous question, I don’t there is much of a difference. That being said, the way in which we do, is primarily we work a little bit independently, I think that’s important. I think there is not anything I shouldn’t know, knowing too much about the ins and outs of the organization might in fact distract me from doing part of my duty. So most of the essential communication is done through the CAs. Obviously we communicated much more when it settles down, we needed to know much more information and task division gets clearer.
What are you most looking forward to in this Euros edition?
Gigi: I’m really excited, I really enjoy the whole process of finding judges across Europe, CA-ing across Europe and doing motion sets. It’s gonna be strange for me not to be there to see all that happens, but it’s probably gonna be amazing, especially given the pool of great judges I’ve seen across this year. I guess that’s what I’m most excited about!
Daan: I think every Euros is great, because it allows a large amount of communities to come together, which means you don’t just learn from people whom you always debate with. And that’s why I’m very happy to return to Novi Sad, because I think that debating is very important for this particular region. It is still within my lifetime that a war was waged here, it is still within my lifetime that people felt unsafe to speak up, and I think such opportunity remains fragile. And in that regard, I’m really happy to see many young people able to get engaged in debating, power-free thinking, critical reasoning and holding institutions accountable. I’m just happy to know I can contribute to a small part of that.
What do you hope to get out of your time in this Euros edition?
Gigi: So I already got a lot out of it, having been working super intensively with quite a big team over a pretty long period of time. A lot of them have taught me things about CA-ing that I didn’t know before, and I’ve changed my mind about some of the things that I was really dead set on. I think sometimes CAs tend to be very negative about ideas that they don’t initially understand, and this CA team is working really hard to get rid of that. All of our work is anonymized when we cooperate, so it’s very helpful to learn from that.
Daan: For me, this is my final big thing I’ll be doing. In that regard, I hope I set up something that is really cool, that we have amazing motions, that people are satisfied with the adjudication. If people tell me by the end that the tournament has been great I hope they don’t do that because they want to please me, but because they genuinely have a good time. And if that’s the case, I’d be really happy at Euros this year.
De Nederlandse Debatbond (NDB) stelt zich als doel het wedstrijddebat te bevorderen en ondersteunen in Nederland. Als nationaal overkoepelend orgaan vertegenwoordigt de NDB ongeveer 1.000 leden waarvan de meesten lid zijn van één van de debatverenigingen die Nederland rijk is.