Durham debaters reach European final

Thomas Ball (Left) with Ben Dory (Right)

By Rowena Caine

One of the teams from the Durham Union Society’s (DUS) competitive debating squad made the finals of the European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC).

A team consisting of Ben Dory (1st year, English) and Thomas Ball (PhD, Medieval Political and Ethical Philosophy) made their way to the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) for the EUDC held between 7th and 12th August.

Over 600 debaters and judges from more than 140 institutes entered the competition. There were two people per team, and four teams in each debate. Each debate lasted an hour.

After the third day, sixteen of the teams that took part entered the quarter final.

In the final, Ben Dory and Thomas Ball faced Oxford A, Cambridge A and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) Hist B, in front of an audience of approximately 600 people.

Each team had to give a seven minute speech and the motions of each debate were not released until fifteen minutes before the start of each round.

The motion that was debated in the final was “This House Would Pay Reparations to Women.”

After losing to Oxford A, Thomas Ball expressed: “Of course we’re disappointed not to win, but the true joy of the competition is the opportunity to compete against the best that Europe has to offer.

“I’m incredibly pleased that it has gone so well, it was a privilege to take part in a final of that calibre.”

Ben Dory, who only began debating when he started at the University last October, added: “Competing in the final with some of the best debaters in Europe was fantastic. It’s a shame we couldn’t bring the trophy to Durham in the end, but we’ll be back next year.”

Both members of the team have done extremely well in the past.

Thomas Ball has one five Inter-Varsity Debate Competitions (IV’s), has been a freshers’ cup finalist, a three time inter-collegiate cup finalist and one time winner, a five time Robson cup finalist, has broken at more than 22 competitions, been best speaker at five and was a world’s Grand Finalist in Public Speaking in 2008.

Thomas Ball also commented: “It was a pleasure speaking with Ben. He is one of the most talented first-years I’ve seen at Durham for many years and he has a distinguished career ahead of him.”

The DUS competitive debating has also been very successful this year.

A team consisting of Guy Miscampbell and Pamela Cohn made the final of the England Mace, Oxford IV and the Cambridge IV, and the octofinal of the World Universities Debating Championship.

Guy Miscampbell (Director of Debating and second year Politics and Economics student) said: “This year, we’re hoping to take debating to an extra level and bring home some trophies.”

“Last year we were fourth ranked in Europe… we’ve definitely cemented our place there.”

Ben Dory added: “Durham is currently enjoying a golden age in debating… I’m hugely looking forward to all of the competitions taking place next year, including of course the Durham Inter-Varsity in November.”

The DUS competitive debating is entering teams into competitions at Oxford and Cambridge. They are also entering the World Debating Championships in Manila at the end of this year.

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