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Debate team competes at Columbia University

by Emily Moss

This school’s debate team was one of about 100 school teams from across the country to compete in the annual tournament at Columbia University Saturday, Jan. 26, discussing whether developmental assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

None of the team members advanced to the bracket round this year, which consisted of the top 32 teams, although they came very close to qualifying, according to junior Bill Shen, a captain.

“In the past, we’ve definitely done better,” said Shen.

He added that their cases, generally taking place in teams of two, are judged on argumentation and persuasion, and that each speaker is awarded points based on presentation skills, clarity, intelligence, and preparedness.

According to Shen, the team of junior Daniel Ruttenberg and sophomore Ross Kesselman and the team of senior Tristan Rus and sophomore Adam Rabinowitz both went 3-3, while Shen and sophomore Edward Ding went 4-2.

The team has been preparing for these debates since the topic was finalized in December, although some members even began doing preliminary research as early as Thanksgiving, said Shen.

“We formulate arguments, look up evidence, talk to friends from all over the country, and we look at scholarly journals, news articles, published studies, metastudies, etc.,” he said.

Ruttenberg added that the team usually meets one to two times a week.

“We are proud of our team,” said Ruttenberg.

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