Two University of Toronto debaters won the 2008 North American Debating Championships, beating a team from Harvard University in a rousing final debate.
Jon Laxer, a first-year law student, and Jason Rogers, a first-year graduate student in economics, won the cup for Hart House, the student centre that supports most extracurricular activities at U of T, including the debating club.
“It feels great!” said an excited Mr. Laxer afterwards. “We didn’t choke!” added Mr. Rogers. That’s an understatement, with the judges ruling five to zero in favour of the Hart House team.
The resolution under debate, which they argued for, was complex: “In the situation that a person was accidentally medically hooked up to another person, and the second person required that the first stay hooked up to the second for a year in order for the second to survive, this house believes that the first person has an obligation to stay for the year.”
Carleton University played host to the championship, one of the largest non-athletic student competitions in North America. More than 70 teams from 24 universities, split about 50-50 between Canadian and U.S. institutions, competed over three days in late January.
Teams that made it to the semi-final round had already debated nine or 10 times over three days. U of T has a strong debating tradition, with a Hart House team winning top honours at the World University Debating Championship in Dublin in 2006.
The North American Debating Championships are organized and run by students, and Carleton had to bid on hosting them “just like with the Olympics,” said co-organizer Blair Stein. Next year’s championship will take place in the United States but the campus hasn’t yet been selected.