Debate team triumph

Saranyah Sukumaran - News Reporter 2 November 2009

Two Cambridge students achieved success last weekend when they won the International Inter-varsity Debating Competition held in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

Sean Koh, a third year economist from Trinity Hall, and Doug Cochran, a second year affiliate law student from Emmanuel defeated 96 teams from eight different countries and 40 other institutions. The pair had a contentious win, with six judges for Cambridge and three judges for Oxford. Cochran told The Cambridge Student (TCS), “We were thrilled to have won. It was a pleasure to speak with Sean and an honour to represent Cambridge.”

The pair competed in five different rounds with topics ranging from, “never releasing passengers on compassionate grounds,” to “abolishing state endorsed marriages.” In the final round, the motion was, “This house believes that those who buy non-essential goods rather than giving to charity are morally responsible for the death of starving Africans.”

Arguing for the proposition, Cochran, a finalist of The European Debating Championship and Koh, who will be co-convening Cambridge’s own inter-varsity competition next month, defeated teams from Oxford, the LSE and Trinity College Dublin.

Their case rested on the notion that neglecting to give to charitable causes would amount to being complicit in causing the death of those whom you could have otherwise saved.

The competition’s chief adjudicator, responsible for setting the motions and ensuring debates were judged fairly and accurately was also a Cambridge student.

Jo Box, a post-graduate law student at Murray Edwards College and the former Director of Debating at the Cambridge Union Society, said, “It was a very enjoyable weekend and I was particularly pleased to see a team from Cambridge emerge as winners.”

Cambridge’s success did not just lie with one partnership. Mhairi Murdoch, a fifth-year medical student from Girton, was declared best speaker and reached the semi-finals alongside two other teams from Cambridge.

Saranyah Sukumaran – News Reporter