The UW Debate Society is back after spending a weekend at Queen’s University Sutherland competition. The competition took place on Feb. 2 and 3, with UW’s team making it to the quarterfinals.
This year marks the second time in a row that UW has made it to knock-out rounds at Sutherland, so it’s a special achievement for the team. “We have big ambitions. [Making it to knock-outs twice in a row] shows that we’re kind of back post-COVID, because it’s really hard to run to big clubs online. But now we have a good core group of people, of good friends, and we’re getting larger as well,” said Alex Zhu, an executive team member.
During the winter term the Debate Society participates in Canadian parliamentary competitions, a debate format which allows one side to prepare their argument ahead of time while the opposition only finds out the topic when the actual debate begins. “It’s a little chaotic,” said Muriel Wang, an executive member of the Society who represented UW at Queen’s.
Guo Chen, another executive member, explained how the competition season works. Universities across Ontario take turns hosting tournaments throughout the year, allowing debate teams to travel around in a kind of “circuit.” “It’s pretty cool, because you develop this big community,” Chen said, adding that it’s nice for the team to see their debate friends from across the province during tournament weekends.
“[T]here’s really no interaction between these tournaments,” Chen added. “So, you don’t accumulate points or anything, [you just] go to a tournament, you give it your all and you try to do as well as you can there.”
The Society is now looking towards the McGill Intervarsity Tournament in Montreal, which takes place in early March. In order to raise funds for competition costs, the Debate Society often hosts high school tournaments here at UW where they act as judges. Zhu said that the Society organizes and runs these events “to raise money for our own club, but also to give [high school students] a good competition.”
For UW students looking to get involved, Chen said that “at Waterloo, we have the most new-joiner friendly debate [society] . . . We tend to just come for it because we just truly enjoy it.” Chen and Zhu both added that it’s a great way to make friends and have the opportunity to travel around on weekends.
The Society meets at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in RCH. More information can be found on their Instagram.