Yale Debate Association wins national tournament success
Vaibhav Sharma, photography editor
The Yale Debate Association has had a particularly successful year despite the club going online. Most recently, members received top prizes at the American Parliament Debate Association’s national online tournament, which took place April 23-25.
The YDA brought six teams of two to the tournament. One team in particular, consisting of Matt Song ’24 and Trent Kannegieter ’21, placed second, Yale’s best ranking at the tournament since 2018. Two other teams were “octafinalists,” meaning they were ranked. in the top 16 teams.
“I’m really proud of the team,” YDA President Alexander Gordon 22 said in an interview with The News. “The resilience, dedication and passion that people have shown not only for the debate, but also for the commitment to each other, and the amount of training and energy they have invested in the debate , I think, have increased this year. “
In addition, former YDA President Ellie Singer ’22 was awarded the top spot for Speaker of the Year, Yale’s first national speaker since 2007, according to a YDA press release. .
Singer also received the Jeff Williams Award, which is given to a fourth-year debater who won “the most top 10 finishes of all ‘of the year’ categories,” according to the press release.
“I have admired past winners of these awards for so long and never thought I would be one,” Singer wrote in an email to News. “Honestly, I still doubt myself a little bit, but I think he’s taller than me. Debate, like many activities, struggles a lot with issues of equity, including sexism. So I hope this will remind other women and gender minorities that we belong and can thrive in this business.
All tournaments and practices have moved online due to the pandemic this year. Although the students lost the social aspect of traveling to tournaments, the team adapted and found several silver liners, the process being digital, Gordon said.
For example, online competitions have made competing against elite international competitions regularly “logistically feasible and affordable in a way never seen before,” Kannegieter noted.
“We have adapted remarkably well, I think,” Song said. “Anything can happen with Zoom. And in some ways it’s more convenient because you don’t have to physically go to a location to do a practice round or physically go to a tournament, which has reduced many obstacles to the game. accessibility and also improved convenience in some ways.
Because the tournament was live, more people could watch it. About 100 people were in the audience for the final round where Song and Kannegieter competed. Part of the audience was made up of former YDA students, who were able to return via the online platform.
Some of the topics discussed by Song and Kannegieter include North Korean geopolitics, copyright, and Japanese internment in the United States during World War II.
“On the less tangible front, we were really having fun,” Kannegieter said. “We gave ourselves permission to forget about any competitive involvement and just enjoy each round. We need to talk about things we care about against opponents we truly respect.
The team made an effort throughout the year to provide spaces for the YDA to be “more than just a competitive environment,” said Gordon.
For example, members were able to participate in a “lunch tag system” that matched YDA students and allowed them to bond. During tournaments, the team ate together on Zoom. The YDA subsidized meals so that members could each order their own food.
“Our little Zoom calls, the practice rounds we run, meal tags and office hours every week, these are things that really make you feel like you still have a connection to a place that you are. physically distant, socially distant. , academically far from, ”Song said.
The Yale Debate Association was founded in 1908.