Can’t argue with that: Cambridge master debaters reach finals of world championships

Cambridge team Kitty Parker Brooks and Ben Adams Image credit: WUDC
Cambridge team Kitty Parker Brooks and Ben Adams Image credit: WUDC
Image credit: WUDC

Students representing the Cambridge Union last week proved themselves among the best debaters in the world at the annual World Universities Debating Championship in Chennai in India.

Having argued their way through eleven long rounds of British Parliamentary debates, Kitty Parker Brooks and Ben Adams knocked out Oxford and St Andrews in the semis on the risqué topic “This House believes women should reject practices that alter the appearance of their genitalia, such as waxing and labiaplasty”.

In the grand final on Friday, they faced up against teams from Harvard, Sydney and Glasgow, opposing the motion “This House believes that India should adopt aggressive free-market policies”. After a long deliberation, Harvard were announced world champions.

Two other Cantab teams also had a great deal of success in Chennai. Ashish Kumar (Pembroke) and Thomas Simpson (Caius) were knocked out in the octos, but their high scores in earlier rounds ranked them as the second-best team in the world. Freddy Powell (Robinson) and the Union’s own President-Elect Michael Dunn Goekjian (Trinity) also reached the octos.

“I am absolutely delighted with the results,” said Ali Roweth, the Union’s Debating Officer. “The entire delegation did superbly, and they should all be really proud of their success at getting so far in such a major competition.”

Attended by more than 700 of the best debaters from around the world and around 350 student adjudicators, the competition is the biggest event of the debating calendar and one of the largest student events in the world.

Other motions appearing during the tournament ranged from the provocative “This House regrets the rise of a hook-up culture” to the the controversial “This House believes the US government should fund moderate madrasas throughout the Islamic world”.

Coming so soon after Cambridge winning the European Universities Debating Championships in August, these results make 2013 an outstanding year for Cambridge debating.

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