By Ellen Tsaprailis
Carleton University students Matthew Gallagher and Connor Ahluwalia won the North American Universities Debating Championship (NAUDC) last weekend in Geneva, N.Y., defeating teams from Harvard, Yale and Stanford to take the trophy.
Hosted by Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Carleton was the only Canadian team to advance to the elimination rounds and won the quarter- and semi-final before taking the Grand Final.
Both are members of Carleton University’s Debating Society. Ahluwalia is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Public Administration and Policy Management (BPAPM) program, while Gallagher is in his first year of a master’s in Political Management, having already graduated with his BPAPM.
This year’s NAUDC had 124 teams competing from many different universities, making it one of the largest tournaments in the world. University debates work by having two people from the same school compete as a team. The students debate in a style called “British parliamentary” format, which has four teams in each round of debate, all competing against each other.
These dynamic debaters have now qualified to attend the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Round Robin (HWS RR) in the spring.
“The HWS RR is widely seen as the most exclusive English-speaking debating tournament in the world,” says Gallagher. “Only 16 teams are invited to attend. They are composed of the winners of the NAUDC, the European Universities Debating Championships (European equivalent to NAUDC), the four teams in the grand final of the World Universities Debating Championships, and a selection of invited teams with extraordinary debating accomplishments.
And the topic the two were debating? “This house believes that scholars who study under-represented groups in history should emphasize their contribution to events that are commonly considered historically significant, rather than studying the history of those groups’ contributions to their own societies.”