Friday, May 4, 2012

What's debate?

Hello and welcome to what will hopefully become the home of URI debate! We are a brand new team, aimed at competing in Worlds British Parliamentary-style intercollegiate debate.

Interested, but don't know what British Parliamentary-style debate means? I'll give a brief overview, and then provide links for further information.

In BP World's debate, four teams compete against one another. Two teams support the motion, and two teams oppose. Each debater gives only one speech. The format is as follows:

Opening government 1 (prime minister)
Opening opposition 1 (leader of the opposition)
Opening government 2 (deputy prime minister)
Opening opposition 2 (deputy leader of the opposition)
Closing government 1 (member for the government)
Closing opposition 1 (member for the opposition)
Closing government 2 (government whip)
Closing opposition 2 (opposition whip)

Each speech is 7 long, and open for points of information (questions or comments to the floor) after the first minute and before the last minute (first and last minute are closed to POIs).

The motion is released 15 minutes before the start of the round--this debate format encourages quick thinking, wit, analysis and speaking off the cuff. Here are examples of motions from the elimination rounds of the 2011 WUDC:

Octo: This house would buy countries votes in international organizations
Qtr: This house believes that courts should not enforce wills that discriminate on the basis of race
Semi: This house opposes organized religion
Final: This house would invade Zimbabwe
EFL (English as a first language) Semi: This house supports a one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
EFL Final: This house would give more votes to the poor
ESL (English as a second language) Qtr: This house believes that domestic courts should try foreign nationals who commit war crimes abroad
ESL Semi: This house would prefer that the children of racial minorities be adopted by parents of that race
ESL Final: This house believes that the courts should break up consistently dominant political parties
Masters Rd1: This house would buy local
Masters Final: This house prefers a philosopher King to a tyrannical democracy

Each team competes against the other, but they have to carefully cooperate with the other team on their side of the motion (it is not against the rules to attack the team on your side [to "knife" them], but it's VERY frowned upon). You want to contribute more to the debate, and argue more skillfully, than your side-mate in a way that builds from their position. For debate partners, you want to have a basic position, but each debater should build their own particular take on that position. The goal is to win that your basic principle or justification for your side, and effectively deal with opposing arguments.

WUDC (World University Debate Championship) rules
WUDC twitter
International Debate Education Association Worlds Debate
Guidelines for British Parliamentary debate

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