The third annual Cal Parli Invitational, held the weekend of October 6th, distinguished itself from other recent parliamentary debate tournaments in several ways, including the existence of a junior varsity division, sweepstakes for each division, and a relatively greater number of fact/value resolutions. In novice, Washington High School took first, while Irvington took first in junior varsity, and Campolindo earned the title in varsity.
In the latter, Campolindo High School’s Shannon Bonet & Sharon Yuan defeated Bishop O’Dowd’s Alden O’Rafferty & Connor Whitehill negating the resolution, “Justice requires the recognition of animal rights.” On a sweet note, Bonet & Yuan carried on the legacy of the tournament’s first champions, their former Campolindo teammates Krish Visht & Kevin Deng.
“Both Shannon and I were proud to represent Campolindo in the final round, especially because UC Berkeley is sort of our home turf—all our coaches were there to support us, which made it feel like a family reunion,” said Yuan. Campolindo is coached by several members of Parliamentary Debate at Berkeley, the university’s NPDA team.
Top speaker awards in the varsity division went to Yuan and Bonet, taking first and second place respectively, followed by The Nueva School’s Rajeev Sharma with third place. In junior varsity, Irvington swept first through third place, with Yash Khatavkar in first, followed by Neha Bagepalli and Kritika Sachar. In novice, Campolindo’s Connor Spires took first, followed by Practice Space’s Ursa Kaiser and Campolindo’s April Mao.
The junior varsity division was created after Irvington High School sought conflict with tournament registration, and wished for a more appropriate spot to send members who debated in novice the year before, but were not yet ready for varsity.
“Under the tournament requirement, all our members in novice last year couldn’t compete because the ‘novice’ division excluded anyone that competed in debate the year before. So in order to send them, we needed an intermediate division. Hence, JV,” said Irvington High School’s debate president Reetam Ganguli.
Additionally, the fifth round resolution that “Pope Francis ought to step down” sparked mild controversy.
“I didn’t debate the topic because seeing as we were on the Aff side, debating the topic would have compromised my moral compass. I also thought I wasn’t capable of being object enough. I would have had to say things I wasn’t comfortable saying that would probably go against my religious beliefs, just to attempt to win a round [and] for me, it wasn’t worth it. I think tournaments should be more considerate when choosing topics,” said Rachel Kavalakatt.
The tournament accommodated Kavalakatt’s concerns by allowing her round a separate motion. Both teams were then given full preparation time. Kavalakatt’s team was also the only team which had a conflict, and it was quickly resolved so that everyone could debate. Emma Barton, the tournament’s equity officer, describes that as her job—to ensure that “people should not be obligated to debate about something if they it would be immoral.”
“I generally do think it is okay for parli to include them [resolutions that talk about religion or sensitive issues]. Debate should be about engaging critically with a wide range of ideas that are important in the world. I think it is a disservice to say that, as a rule, we cannot encourage students to do that with topics like religion or other sensitive things.” says Barton. At an equitable standpoint, “debate is a tricky balance of intellectual discussion that should include as many topics as possible, and include as many people as possible.”
Holistically, the Cal Parli Invitational hosted over 100 teams from over 20 high schools. “The Debate Society of Berkeley is extremely proud of the success of tournament we recently organized and hosted,” said Jake Klawans, tournament director. “Reflecting the care with which we crafted the propositions to avoid any bias, winners were split almost exactly between teams taking pro and con positions.”