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Bates College Earns Victory in Debate Tournament at MIT

By Don Lacey
Staff Reporter

On Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3, the parliamentary debate team hosted its third annual debate tournament.

The event attracted 56 teams from schools such as Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University, according to team President Anand R. Radhakrishnan '96.

A team from Bates College composed of Quoc Tran and Chris Tine debated Princeton's Doug Kern and Gwen Snorteland in the tournament's championship round. The case set forth by Bates, in keeping with a tradition of offbeat final round topics, was that parents should not tell their children that Santa Claus is real if they ask.

Princeton countered by arguing that such a policy would be detrimental to the spirit of Christmas, and during a section of the round where speeches from non-competing individuals are allowed, a member of a team from Harvard argued that both teams were mistaken in their assumption that Santa Claus does not exist.

A panel of seven judges from MIT eventually gave the win to Bates.

MIT is a member of the American Parliamentary Debate Association, a nationwide collegiate parliamentary debate league. Collegiate debate of this sort differs from the "policy" debate with which most people are familiar, said Vice President S. Roopom Banerjee '97.

"Parliamentary debate is totally extemporaneous, and therefore requires much less preparation than do many other formats," Banerjee said. "That's really helpful for MIT students, because we're generally too busy with schoolwork to spend a lot of time researching cases," he said.

In addition to the straight debate rounds, MIT sponsored a speech contest in which participants had to speak extemporaneously on a humorous topic for three minutes.

Yale University's Mark Oppenheimer won the competition, despite another speaker's complaint that Oppenheimer's attempted witticisms had only served to solidify his reputation as father of the bomb.

The MIT tournament is popular with other teams because unlike many schools' events, "MIT runs on time," said Radhakrishnan, adding that Tournament Director Cynthia V. Santillan '96 deserved much of the credit for the invitational's punctuality.

"We're also grateful for the many student volunteers who pitched in and helped to judge," Radhakrishnan said.

In accordance with APDA protocol, no MIT teams competed in the tournament.