The world of debate is a fast-paced activity that not only requires quick thinking but an extensive knowledge of a variety of topics, two skills that a team of students from the University of Saskatchewan have proven they are capable of utilizing.
During a tournament on Mar. 4–5, U of S Debate Society members Shivani Tauh and Joshua Noel won the 2016 Western Canadian Competition and are heading to nationals on Mar. 18, which will be held at the University of Alberta. This event will host a multitude of teams from all across Canada, allowing the U of S Debate Society a chance at winning at the national level and meeting a variety of debaters from all across Canada.
Tauh, second-year biochemistry major and vice-president internal for the U of S Debate Society, spoke to the importance of debate in a university setting.
“It fosters such a positive environment, and the skill set it provides is applicable to so many different aspects of university. You can have students coming from a science background and it’s really good to have them debate a lot of political topics because you gotta stay in the know,” Tauh said.
According to Tauh, students interested in joining the Debate Society will not only develop skills to excel in debates but also hone their speaking and interview skills overall. Tauh believes debate can also be beneficial for humanities and political studies students as it can pertain directly to graduate or law school.
Aly Sparks, first-year law student and president of the Debate Society, encourages students join the debate community, as she considers it to be a valuable experience.
“Aside from all of the incredible skills that I think debaters learn, it’s a really incredible community of a club. We do socials and you get to know people, especially from the University of Alberta and Calgary who we have ties with. I think it’s a way for students who are looking for a club on campus to get involved more while also benefitting themselves in some way that they can actually see,” Sparks said.
Sparks also noted how debate has helped her in being prepared for class discussions and public speaking in the form of presentations, as well as other ways.
“What it surprisingly helps with a lot is essay writing, because a debate is basically an impromptu and significantly shorter essay in terms of the layout of your arguments and a lot of the techniques that you use, so I think that it helps with that,” Sparks said.
For students who are looking to get involved with the U of S Debate Society, Tauh explains the enrollment process.
“It’s really easy. You just have to show up, or message us … we’ll be super excited and be like, ‘Please come to the meeting, we’ll be so happy to have you.’ There is no prerequisite; for me specifically, I didn’t do it at all in high school,” Tauh said.
Tauh assures students that they accept members from all academic backgrounds and that, while the big recruitment push is at the beginning of first term, students are welcome to join the Debate Society at any time.
Looking forward, Sparks is excited and hopeful as the team heads to nationals and appreciates that the club is able to make such a trip.
“I think that we’re sending some fairly strong teams and so of course it would be really great to bring home a win. But I think ultimately it’s just really great that we’re able to send teams, and actually that we’re able, this year, to fully fund our teams. So it’s accessible to everyone, it’s something that I’m really proud of.”
Photo: Aly Sparks / Supplied