On Sunday, March 8th, independent hybrid team Huntmann Amala Karri and Benjamin Lee swept the competition at Columbia University, winning the final round against Debate Camp Noah Szymanis & Tessa Davis. The judges voted 3-2 in favor of Huntmann, on the resolution "In the event of a zombie apocalypse, this house would institute a policy of destroying infected quarantined areas rather than trying to save the uninfected people inside.”
Lee, who attends Horace Mann School and Karri, who attends Hunter College High School had never debated in a parliamentary debate tournament before, Lee said. However, they are both nationally ranked public forum debaters who wanted to try something new for a good time, he said.
Deputy Tournament Director Rodda John, who watched Lee and Karri in the semifinal round, was extremely impressed by their skill considering their lack of parli experience. “When public forum teams try out parliamentary debate, they usually feel bogged down by technicality,” John said. “However, Lee and Karri were extraordinarily parli-y while using tech skills common in public forum debate, and they were very talented in that sense,” he said.
Aside from their technicality skills and through warranting, both Lee and Karri were both really really funny and very good at interpreting the resolutions, John said.
The resolutions were written by a committee of five debaters from the Columbia debate team, John said. Any member of the team could submit a resolution, and then the members sat down together for about three hours to decide which resolutions were the best.
For the most part, the resolutions were fair and well balanced, according to judge and former parli debater Elijah Karshner. Karshner, who was the captain of the Stuyvesant parliamentary debate team before graduating last year, especially liked the resolutions on the topic of international relations.
One resolution that Lee particularly enjoyed debating was about abolishing sororities and fraternities, which he debated in the quarterfinal round.
“Our arguments were mostly based on the sexual assault that can and often does occur because of fraternities and sororities,” he said. “These types of resolutions are extremely important to debate and are key to furthering the discussion about sexual assault in general,” he said.
One reason this year’s tournament differed from last year was the use of online ballots by the directors, which made the tournament run a lot quicker, according to John. “I think we ended 20 min later than scheduled, and considering how late debate tournaments usually run, that's pretty good,” he said.
These online ballots also increased the quality of feedback from the judges to the debaters, John said. “The quality of feedback was better because instead of judges having to rush back to the tabroom to turn ballots in, they could take their time writing critiques of the debate,” he said.
As a debater, Lee noticed this efficiency. “Compared to a lot of public forum tournaments, this tournament was really on time, and overall it was very well ran,” Lee said.
Another change in the tournament in comparison to last year’s was the increased generosity with the registration fee, John said. “This year, we made the tournament as accessible as possible, by offering cheaper registration fees to teams who needed it,” John said.
In line with the new system of registration fees, the tournament also opened with a talk about equity in debate, which focused on the importance of word and argument choice. For the first time, the tournament also had an equity officer, which students could report problematic things they faced at the tournament to,
“We believe that these measures taken to enforce equity sets a different tone at tournaments,” John said. “We’re trying to foster a community of parli debaters instead of a league that is cut throating and unwelcoming, which is in my opinion the main difference between the parliamentary debate community versus the public forum and Lincoln Douglas debate community,” he said.
Ridge Tanvi Namjoshi and Kevin Tang def. Horace Mann Jack Klein and Madhav Menon (3-0)
Huntmann Independent Amala Karri and Benjamin Lee def. Ridge Jerry Yang and Vikram Agrawal (3-0)
Noah Szymanis and Tessa Davis def. BOW Prastik Mohanraj and Arnav Paliwal (3-0)
Friends Seminary Kiran Singh and Daniel Vebman def. New Haven UDL Owen Heaphy and Alim Rodican (2-1)
Huntmann Independent Karri and Lee def. Ridge Namjoshi and Tang (5-0)
Debate Camp Szymanis and Davis def. Friends Seminary Singh and Vebman (4-1)
Huntmann Independent KL def. Debate Camp SD (3-2)