Otago Southland Debating Championships

Thursday 5th March 2020

...We listened in horror as our case was coldly dismembered ...

The tournament commenced on the 29th of February. Upon arriving, we were confronted with some last-minute changes to our team’s composition. It was decided that Ben Monaghan, Ali Dohan and I would form John McGlashan 1, while McGlashan 2 would comprise of Harry Scott, Archie Dunn and Caleb Oakley for the first day and Max Baldwin, Archie Dunn and Krishan Luxmanan for the second day. We then entered the briefing room and were informed about the two enjoyable but intensive days of debating to follow.

Before we left the room, the first motion [debating topic] was announced. We were against the motion, which proposed replacing external examinations with internal assessments. An untidy debate gave way to our first victory, after which we returned to the briefing room for our next motion. This motion stated that journalists should disclose how they voted. We were affirming. We prepared a case explaining how this would reveal bias, however, the opposing team, James Hargest 2, argued that journalists should not publish opinion pieces at all. Though we were disrupted by this unanticipated move, we transformed the debate into one on freedom of speech, where we had the high ground. Thus, our second win was earned.

In the third round, we faced the famously formidable Columba 1. We debated the merits of globalisation but started on the back foot as they opened with an overwhelming tide of clear, strong points. The debate did not improve from there. We listened in horror as our case was coldly dismembered while their case held fast against our attempts at rebuttal. Thus, we were awarded our first defeat. In our final debate of the day, we debated against the use of the death penalty. Using “neo-christian” arguments, we narrowly won against Otago Boys 1. Afterwards, we went home for some much-needed rest.

Feeling refreshed, we returned for the second day. Our first debate of the day pitted us against Kavanagh 1. We were debating against voluntourism by young, unskilled people. We attempted to prove why these volunteers were doing more harm than good in impoverished communities. The adjudication for the debate took many minutes, and though it was close, we lost. Our next debate was the last before semi-finals. Against Columba 3, we debated for banning of alternative medicines. Thankfully, this team was an easier foe than Columba 1. We proved why these medicines sociologically undermine proven medicines, therefore winning the debate. Unfortunately, we did not get into the semi-finals. We finished 6th in the tournament with 4 wins and 2 losses.

For a team with one first time debater in it, this was a very respectable result. Of note was the fact that Ben Monaghan was selected for the development squad - a just reward for his efforts over the two days.

McGlashan 2 acquitted themselves well, despite the changes to speakers over the two days. These boys, most very new to debating, evolved from novices and rank beginners to seasoned campaigners and took away a 50:50 split of wins and losses - a very respectable effort.