Seeing the world and experiencing other cultures are just a few perks of the Rocky Mountain College Debate Team. This past week, Debate Coach Shelby Jo Long Hammond and judge Daniel Parod traveled with six Rocky student debaters to Dublin, Ireland, for a fiercely competitive debate tournament at Trinity College. The competing team members from Rocky included Shay Sturdevant ‘17, Annastacia Anderson ‘17, Molly Davis ‘17, Gerald Giebink ‘18, Isabella Goss ‘19, and Jack Jennaway ‘17.
Trinity IV tournament 2017 is an internationally open tournament meaning any college from around the world can register to compete as long as they meet the deadlines and pay the fees. However, if schools wanted to participate, they had to register quickly because only 95 teams were allowed to compete due to space, size, and coordination factors. Rocky was able to compete against universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Centrale Paris among others. Aside from Rocky, the only other school from the United States was Pepperdine University from California.
The form of debate at this tournament was British Parliamentary (BP). As made obvious in the title of this style, BP holds its origins within British parliamentary procedure. With this style, there are four teams composed of two people in every round. Fifteen minutes before the round begins, each team is told which side they will argue, and what the motion is. Two teams will represent “government bench,” which has to support the motion, and two teams will represent “opposition bench,” which opposes the motion. The positions for each teams are: opening government, opening opposition, closing government, and closing opposition.
Since teams receive the motion and placement in the round only 15 minutes before the debate begins, they must quickly prepare arguments based on any prior knowledge or experience they have pertaining to the subjects in the motion. No technology or outside communication is permitted during preparation time. This means if a debater doesn’t know anything about the motion, they had better hope their partner does. Once in the round, each person must give a seven-minute speech to convince the judges their side should win based on reasonable, coherent, and original argumentation. Before and after individuals present their speeches, they are encouraged to actively engage in the round by asking questions to those on the opposing bench.
In the five preliminary rounds, topics ranged from subjects like whether China should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, whether the use of erotic capital for women does more harm than good, or if reparations should be made for Northern Irish Catholics from the British government. These topics were not far off from subjects the debate team had expected. Generally, BP debates cover a range of important social movements, historical occurrences, and political events. Despite being solid competitors, the RMC teams did not make it to the final two rounds.
When the teams were not debating, they had time to explore Ireland. Among the activities available, Rocky debaters were able to take a historical tour of the Kilmainham Gaol, where Irish rebellion leaders were held and executed for being part of the Irish Republican movements. Rocky students also took a day trip to Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. It was here where they took a black cab tour of the city of Belfast, which has been historically divided between Protestants and Catholics. There are many monuments and murals throughout the city as a result of the past conflicts that occurred between the British and the Irish.
The beauty of the north was observed as students walked across the narrow Carrick-a-Rede bridge trailing over the ocean from the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. In addition, they were able to climb on the famous basalt rocks at Giant’s Causeway and walk along the phenomenal green coastline of Ballycastle.
The trip was a whirlwind of intellectual argumentation, educational tours, alluring views, and great food. Overall, everyone who attended was amazed with the experience.