USU Women debaters take Australian crown
The University of Sydney Union’s Women’s Debating Team was victorious in the recent Australian Women’s’ Debating Championships for the second year running, consolidating its national superiority.
In a consummate display that mirrored last year’s campaign, the 2009 squad swept the tournament, held at Macquarie University on 26-28 September. Four USU teams broke into the finals, with USU 2’s Bec Barrett and Naomi Hart (who also won in 2006) eventually crowned champions.
The USU also crowded the individual rankings. Julia Bowes was declared Best Speaker, while Steph D’Souza, Elle Jones and Bronwyn Cowell rounded out the top four. Eliza Forsyth and Naomi Hart also made the top ten, in 6th and 8th respectively.
USU Director of Debates, Steve Hind, was delighted by the performance of the squad. “Well done to our entire Women’s contingent on a thoroughly successful tournament,” he said. “Thanks also to our Women’s Officers Alice Hudson and Ellen Ferrington-Michaelis who organised the contingent.”
The Women’s Debating Championships are a major entry in the debating calendar. Teams from eight Australasian universities competed in 2009, debating on topics ranging from foreign aid, drug legalisation, the American voting system as well issues arising from recent news, such as allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sport and the government’s role in housing convicted paedophiles.
The tournament was conducted according to the British Parliamentary debating system, where four teams of two tackle the same topic – with two sides arguing affirmative and two sides arguing negative. This system is often unfamiliar to new women debaters, as it is seldom taught in Australian schools.
USU Programs Manager, Louise Anthony said for this tournament, the USU partnered its experienced debaters with the newcomers, to help develop their skills and ensure an ongoing cycle of success for the University of Sydney. Ten teams plus five adjudicators represented the University of Sydney in this year’s tournament.
The Women’s Team’s success adds yet another piece of silverware to the USU’s impressive cabinet. The organisation was founded in 1874 as a debating society, and that tradition has continued to this day – with the USU’s debating squad currently ranked number one in the world, ahead of heavyweights Oxford, Cambridge and Yale.
USU 1: Julia Bowes and Eliza Forsyth (Breaking second and grand finalists)
USU 2: Bec Barrett and Naomi Hart (Breaking eighth and Champions)
USU 3: Bronwyn Cowell and Nina Ubaldi (Breaking third and grand finalists)
USU 4: Elle Jones and Steph D’Souza (Breaking first and semi-finalists)