Juniors to compete in international debate tournament

By Eli Haims

Three juniors will travel to New York on April 19 to compete in the International Public Policy Forum, an international debate contest. Aneri Amin ’12, Justin Ho ’12 and Julius Pak ’12 defeated a team from Lithuania 3-0 to advance to the “Elite 8.”

This year’s topic is Resolved: NATO Military Operations in Afghanistan Are Not Justified. The final three rounds will take place in New York.

While the competition up to this point has been entirely written, the debates in New York will be oral. In the semifinal round, the team will be arguing the affirmative side. Yesterday the team members submitted their first paper for this round and will submit another in two weeks, which will be sent to the opposition. They will have a chance to read the opposition’s case in preparation for the oral debate.

“Finals Weekend provides the students with the opportunity to participate in an oral debate competition before a panel of some of the world’s foremost experts in debate, business, law and politics,” the website of the Bickel & Brewer Foundation, which sponsors the tournament, said. Previous judges have included retired Army General Wesley Clark and President of New York University John Sexton.

On Feb. 8, the team received the judges’ decisions that they won the round of 16.

“This particular debate was a pretty clear decision for me,” J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Forensic League and a judge, wrote in his decision. “I felt that the Negative team established a strongly definitional framework for the concept of justice that they then used to an incredible advantage in the debate.”

Pak says that the team’s main argument for the affirmative side deals with saying specific conditions must be met for a war to be justified and these conditions have not been met.

The opposition side, which he says is a very standard argument, argues that the war is one of self defense.

In addition to the contest being a written debate for the first two rounds, there is a lot more focus on persuading the judges than the more technical aspects of the Lincoln-Douglas style.

“It’s not the same at all,” Ho said, “One is like a public policy debate and the other is more intense. This is less technical and more policy based.”

The competition began with over 300 teams submitting essays on the topic.

The top 32 teams, which included schools from nine countries and almost 20 states, were invited to take part in the competition.

If the team wins the competition, it will receive a $5,000 prize and will be awarded the “Bickel and Brewer Cup.” An additional $5,000 will be awarded to the school.