On the rainy Saturday morning of November 3rd, high school debaters from all over the east coast gathered in a large auditorium to begin the third annual Vassar College Invitational. Five preliminary rounds and a break to quarterfinals later, Westfield’s Patrick Henderson & Benjamin Mione took the final round on a 5-0 decision over Westfield’s Meghana Kandarpa & Oliver Shulman in the varsity division.
As side government, supporting the resolution “This house, as the United States, would discontinue the current domestic policy of granting citizenship,” Henderson and Mione took an interesting path to victory by proposing a plan where the dichotomy of citizen or noncitizen would be removed.
“Our case centered around how the place of one’s birth is arbitrary and therefore not an adequate reason to deny someone the benefits of living in the US,” Mione said. “We also argued that since the United States has enough land and resources to allow more people in, not doing so and thereby not preventing their suffering, is morally indefensible.”
The final round wasn’t the only round with unique arguments on both sides, rather, the creative resolutions from Tournament Director Everett Rutan allowed teams to stray away from traditional topic areas. These resolutions received positive feedback from judges and debaters alike.
“I loved the resolutions in the last two rounds,” said Mione, of motions based on themes of art and philosophy. Evan Streams, judge and debate coach for the Dalton school, agreed, noting that though he enjoyed all the rounds he judged, the most interesting debates he watched were from philosophical set of resolutions.
This year was the first year that the tournament occurred over the span of two days. According to Rutan, running preliminary and elimination rounds on two separate days made the tournament a lot more enjoyable and a lot less stressful for debaters.
“For the past two years of this tournament, all of the rounds were on one day, which made it hard for everyone to relax,” he said.
The varsity competitive field was comprised of the top parliamentary debate teams from across the east coast, in addition to the returning finalists. Last year’s Vassar finalists and this year’s Yale quarterfinalists, Horace Mann’s Julia Robbins and Amman Kejela, placed 13th in preliminary rounds. Both Henderson and Mione, competing with different partners, broke at Yale earlier in the season, with Henderson reaching octofinals and Mione winning the final round.
In the novice division, Rye Brook’s Komal Samrow & Tess O’Brien defeated Hive’s Halle Hunt & Bronwyn Walsh on a 5-0 decision, debating the resolution that “This house believes that Western States should irrevocably remove citizenship of citizens who join the so-called Islamic State.”
IHS/Hive’s Owen Tanzer was the tournament’s top speaker in the varsity division, and Westfield/Watkinson’s Grace Flynn took first speaker for novice.
Westfield Patrick Henderson & Benjamin Mione def. NHUDL Winnie Jiang & Matt Mauriello (3-0)
Wilton Rishabh Raniwala & Jake Zeyher def. AITE Bella Sorial & Daniel Sorial (3-0)
Westfield Meghana Kandarpa & Oliver Shulman def. Loomis Chaffee Victoria Che & Jocelyn Chen (3-0)
Hive Haven Hunt & Owen Tanzer def. Ridge Daphne Tang & Jerry Yang (3-0)
Westfield Henderson & Mione def. Hive Hunt & Tanzer (3-0)
Westfield Kandarpa & Shulman def. Wilton Raniwala & Zeyher (3-0)
Westfield HM def. Westfield KS (5-0)