York debating team takes first at Queen’s University Chancellor’s Cup

Two York University students competed against some of the best debating teams in the country last month at Queen’s University Chancellor’s Cup, hosted by the Queen’s Debating Union, and walked away winners.

Brent Kettles and Rudi Lof, students at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, defeated debaters from the University of Toronto, Carleton, the University of Ottawa and McGill University to take first place. In addition, Kettles and Lof were named two of the top speakers at the tournament, placing second and fifth.

Left: From left, Brent Kettles and Rudi Lof

The teams debated topics ranging from Somalia and the legal rights of the terminally ill to the final resolution regarding the release of prisoners on compassionate release. This win topped off a successful semester of competitive debate for York, which began in early October when two of York’s novice teams placed in the semifinals at the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID) Central Novice Canadian Championship, held in Montreal.

In October, York attended the Hart House Invitational hosted by the University of Toronto, one of the most competitive tournaments in North America, attracting schools like Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At this event, Kettles ranked sixth in the top speaker category, while Lof was named top speaker for the entire tournament, outshining some of the brightest minds in North America today.

This has been one of York’s most competitive debating seasons. At the CUSID British Parliamentary Championship in Vancouver, York dominated the competition, making it all the way to the final round of the tournament. York’s Emmett Soldati (right), a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Sarah Sahagian, a PhD student in women’s studies, won the semifinal round against McGill. In addition, Kettles was named fourth top speaker of the entire tournament, and also made it to the semifinals.

The York Debating Society is now gearing up for the World Universities Debating Championship in Turkey, Dec. 27 to Jan. 4, 2010. It will also have the opportunity to showcase itself in the new year when the Osgoode Debating Society, along with the York Debating Society, co-host the CUSID-American Parliamentary Debate Association North American Debating Championship Jan. 29 to 31, 2010, one of the largest tournaments on the continent. Teams from the University of British Columbia, New York University, Princeton University, John Hopkins University and many others will converge at York to compete in a weekend-long competition of debate and rhetoric. The chief adjudicator of this year’s tournament will be Toronto lawyer Aaron Rousseau assisted in part by Kettles.

To learn more about York University and its involvement in debate, contact the York Debating Society at yorkdebatingsociety@gmail.com.

To view the Queen’s Chancellor’s Cup results, visit the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate Web site.