Campus-wide debate to be held

The University of Windsor’s Richard Peddie Odette Debate Team is inspiring some would-be challengers to a friendly campus-wide debate.

The success of the Odette Debate Team, pictured here, is inspiring a campus-wide debate organized by the UWSA on Nov. 24 • photo Joey Acott The success of the Odette Debate Team, pictured here, is inspiring a campus-wide debate organized by the UWSA on Nov. 24 • photo Joey Acott

Matt Pilgrim
Jay Verspeelt
LANCE WRITERS

The University of Windsor’s Richard Peddie Odette Debate Team is inspiring some would-be challengers to a friendly campus-wide debate.

The University of Windsor Students’ Alliance is currently organizing a debate event, which will include students from all faculties, on Nov. 24 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the CAW Student Centre.

The Odette team wrapped up the first semester of the American Parliamentary Debate on Oct. 21, defeating Ivy League school Columbia University at the University of Chicago. In under seven minutes, they craftily developed a case opposing the negative implications of DNA technology, and won over judges in a clash over the concept of a nuclear family in an isolated aboriginal community with a communal family structure.

Three weeks earlier, novice members Tom Krizanovic, Andrew Moukled and Celina Bussiere placed sixth, eighth and ninth, respectively, at a tournament in Pittsburgh.

“It was a lot of fun. We learned a lot, had a great experience,” said varsity member Mike Ruffolo.

“Pittsburgh was super excited to have us because on the circuit we’re known as the Canadian team.”

The Odette team is the only Canadian team that competes in the American Parliamentary Debate Association.

“I’m naturally an argumentative person, so it gives me an outlet to be productive with it,” said Ruffolo, when asked to describe what he loves about debating. “Aside from that, it’s great to challenge your beliefs on multiple levels and in different ways. By debating, I know I have gained a lot of empathy for the other side.”

For UWindsor’s amateur event, prospective contestants are being asked to sign up in pairs of two and create at least two of their own debate topics, which they must be prepared to argue for or against in a seven-minute period.

Contestants will argue their cases in the American Parliamentary debate format that the business team uses as opposed to the British Parliamentary style.

“There definitely is a desire for people to participate in this kind of thing at our school,” said former debate team member Alyssa Atkins, who is helping organize the debate. “I’m really excited to provide that kind of platform for people.”

The Odette team is hoping to hold another debate next semester if this one is successful, and possibly develop this into a yearly event.

According to Atkins, the art of debating requires quick thinking and an ability to understand how specific issues fit into larger contexts. “You’re forced to think out of the box immediately. The other team has seven minutes to put forward a case and, in that time, you have to create a counter-argument. It forces you to think high-mindedly in high pressure situations.”

Atkins says she has competed in approximately 50 debates in the two years she was on the Odette team, but recently left due to personal reasons. She views the tournaments as a breeding ground for personal growth. “It’s a great time sharing ideas with very intellectual people who have such varying views. You learn so much from them.”

Business professor Vincent Georgie, the team’s coach, was drawn to work with the team by his fascination with critical discourse. “I think what interests me is the idea of constructing a strong argument by really knowing what your opponent is going to argue. And learning, at times, without maybe admitting it, that your opponent actually probably is correct and they’ve persuaded you.”

The team is expecting to compete in four or five more tournaments before the end of the school year, including a confirmed competition at Stanford University.


Student interested in entering the campus-wide debate can receive more information and register their team by e-mailing Alyssa Atkins at

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