In August 2015 our debating society has been a participant at the European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC) for the first time since 2010. As the tournament was organized very well and we performed at least decently as debating teams we did not hesitate a lot to also register for the Worlds Universities Debating Championships (WUDC), this year in Thessaloniki. The WUDC is the biggest debating tournament in the world, with about 400 teams from all countries competing against each other. Every year it takes place at a different location (next year in The Hague) but always around New Year’s Eve. During the allocation process it is difficult to get more than one teamslot as a debating society that did not have „breaks“ at the Worlds at the last three Worlds in the past. Although every eligible debating institution is guaranteed one teamslot. So three debaters from Göttingen participated: Janni and Habakuk as a team and Alex as an adjudiator. Adjudication quality is taken very serious at the Worlds so that every judge was obliged to pass an adjudication test that included to write a text adjudication for a recorded debate.

Göttingen A in killer mood (Habakuk and Janni in the morning waiting for the draw)

The tournament consists of 9 preliminary rounds of British Parliamentary debating in which all teams compete against all teams. There were three days of preliminaries, so three debates a day. After these nine rounds the competition is split up into the three categories „English as Proficient Language“ (EPL, mostly mothertongue people), „English as Second Language“ (ESL, people with good knowledge of English) and „English as Foreign Language“ (EFL, people with less good knowledge). The best performing teams during the preliminary rounds in the respective categories are „breaking“ to the outrounds. The Göttingen team (unfortunately) did not break, but three teams from Germany did: Jena in EFL, Iserlohn and Aachen in ESL. Lennart Lokstein from Tübingen broke as adjudicator. Aachen even marched straight through to the ESL final. They only missed the final win.

A view on the Thessaloniki coast line from the White Tower of Thessaloniki
A view on the Thessaloniki coast line from the White Tower of Thessaloniki

We had a lot of fun during the time and enjoyed the New Year’s Eve party and spent the free „suffering“ day with a trip to Mount Olympus. The competition itself had some organisational weaknesses. The three days of preliminary rounds each started with an delay of more than 3 hours which caused some bad vibes since most of the participants arrived punctually and so had to wait for the others and for the tab team to draw the first round. The competition took place at the American Farm School of Thessaloniki where it occupied most of the campus. Many participants liked the large vineyards on the campus.
The location of the grand final on the last day of the Worlds was a big theatre in Thessaloniki. It started with the final debate of the EFL contestants, continued with ESL and finally closed with the Open Final with the competing teams from Harvard, Toronto, Serbia (a „pseudo“ university team of two British debaters) and Sydney. The motion of the debate asked whether the world’s poor would be justified to strive for a complete Marxist revolution. The Opening Government from Harvard won the debate.

Dutch WUDC 2017 – we’ll be there!

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