Maintaining their energy from a successful season in 2012-13, the University of Saskatchewan Debate Society started off the new year with their annual recruiting kick-off.
The intent of this year’s kick-off was to increase members as well as show the merits of debate and public speech. The event was held on Sept. 10 in Arts 202 and began with a mock debate performed by seasoned debate veterans.
The topic of debate focused on reviving previously extinct species. USDS Vice-President of Training Dylan Hardy gave a brief overview on the format of debate rounds, advice for coming up with strong arguments and tips on improving speaking style.
The USDS is a non-profit student-run organization with a focus on developing debate skills in a friendly environment. Debaters compete in many interscholastic, national and international tournaments — though there is no obligation to compete. The society also hosts a number of events ranging from socials to volunteering opportunities.
The USDS provides members with unique opportunities to travel across Canada and meet like-minded students. The first tournament of the 2013-14 debating season is the Fall Open, which takes place in Calgary from Oct. 25-27.
The Fall Open is exclusively for novice debaters, meaning it is less competitive than other tournaments. It offers a chance for newcomers to try debate in a fun atmosphere.
The USDS primarily uses two styles of debate.
In the Canadian Parliamentary style, two teams of two take on the roles of the government and the opposition. The government team is given a topic to interpret 15 minutes before the debate. After the government team states their case, the opposition side is given a chance to respond. The government team then offers their rebuttal, after which a judge decides the winner.
The British Parliamentary style sees four teams of two mimic a divided coalition government. Two teams are tasked with supporting a proposition while the other two must oppose it. All teams are given 15 minutes to prepare their case before delivering their stance. After everyone speaks, a judge ranks the teams from first to fourth based on how well they presented their cases.
USDS President Joey Eremondi said polished public speaking is useful and is why he participates in debate.
“A lot of the skills from debate carry over into other areas. We get a topic and have to make a speech 15 minutes later. Being able to improvise and respond to questions on the fly is incredibly handy,” said Eremondi.
Likewise, USDS Vice-President of External Affairs Stefan Belev said the friendships developed through debate are just as valuable as the practical experiences.
“Debate has been one of the most influential activities in my life thus far,” said Belev. “Aside from obvious benefits like improving reasoning, public speaking and persuasive writing, debate has provided me with wonderful experiences, a diverse and friendly social group and continuous learning opportunities.”
Belev was awarded the top speaker award at last year’s Fall Open tournament.
The USDS is always accepting new members from all colleges and programs. Registration fees are $10 for new members and $20 for returning members.
Debate meetings are held Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in Arts 202. Meetings usually consist of a quick training session followed by a round of debate.