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Debate Team Hosts Weekly Tournament

By A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

A team from Princeton University emerged victorious at MIT's second annual parliamentary debate tournament last weekend. The two-day event, hosted by the MIT debate team, brought together 57 teams from 17 schools in the United States and Canada.

Schools represented at the event included Harvard University, Yale University, and Wellesley College.

The tournament was one of the weekly competitions regulated by the student-run American Parliamentary Debate Association. A member school is chosen at random to host each tournament.

Guests pay $100 per team, and the host school, which does not compete, uses the funds to organize the event and to provide the guests with food and housing. Umit E. Kumcuoglu '94 and Eileen L. Brooks '94 were co-directors of the event.

Last week's tournament consisted of five rounds, with three on Friday and two on Saturday. General assemblies were held in Rooms 2-190 and 6-120, while individual debates occupied more than 30 classrooms around campus.

Each round lasted about 40 minutes, plus 10 minutes to prepare. Pairs of two-member teams were given resolutions, ranging in topic from pressing world issues to humorous excerpts from American popular culture.

The affirmative team leader opened with eight minutes to speak, followed by the opposing team leader, who spoke within the same time. The affirmative and opposing team members were then also allowed to speak for eight minutes each. Finally, the opposing team leader was given four minutes to close, and the affirmative team leader ended the match with a four minute rebuttal.

Princeton's winning team earned its victory with an argument in favor of modifying Germany's constitution to allow the deployment of troops outside of the country. Ironically, the opposing team was also from Princeton and was ranked higher in seniority.

Although MIT did not participate in this tournament, it has received many accolades for past performances, including first place at the Fairfield University tournament earlier this year. Its past record has also qualified the team to attend the national competition in April.

The three-year-old team has grown successfully, said Publicity Chair Anand R. Radhakrishnan '96. With a current membership of about 30, the group is able to use funds generated from hosting, in addition to Undergraduate Association sponsorship, to attend most of the debates, Kumcuoglu said.

The team is always looking for new members from the MIT community, said founder Per E. Juvkam-Wold '94. Beginning in January, the team will be recruiting new members for training.

Kumcuoglu added that the team is looking forward to competing at the world tournament in Melbourne, Australia during the Independent Activities Period.

"[Other schools] look at [MIT students] like we're a bunch of science geeks, but we actually have many eloquent speakers," Radhakrishnan said. "It looks good on MIT that we have a team."