Otago argues its way to top

tago University Debating Society members (from left) Sophia Cameron-Christie (25), Courtney Cunningham (19), John Brinsley-Pirie, Kieran Bunn (both 22), Alec Dawson (23) and Olivia Hall (21). Photo by Craig BaxterThe University of Otago is now ranked among the top debating universities in the world, alongside the likes of Harvard and Cambridge.

Being ranked among the top 11 universities for next year's world university debating championships was a reflection of its performance in the past three championships, when it defeated some of the world's most prestigious universities.

Otago University Debating Society president John Brinsley-Pirie said being ranked among the best meant it would no longer be able to sneak under the radar, as it did last year, when one of its teams made the top four in the world.

''There is a bit of pressure now,'' he said.

Having a higher ranking also meant it was able to enter more teams in the competition, which was a great way of training future champions.

The top ranking came as the society was busy preparing to host the Australasian and Asian inter-varsity debating championships, known as the Australs, starting at the end of the month.

About 360 people were expected to come to the week-long event.

The fact Otago University was chosen to host the event, over Bali, was another sign of respect for Otago's debating prowess.

''People are willing to come here [over Bali] even though it's a miserable place in the middle of winter.''

Preparation included finding rooms in which to hold debates and recommending people pack winter clothes.


Four qualities that make a top debater
 •Being calm under pressure
•Being able to work as a team
•Being persuasive
•Being approachable and likeable
SOME OF THE STRANGEST MOTIONS DEBATED BY OTAGO TEAMS
•The merits of going back in time to kill Hitler
•The ethics of taking a hypothetical pill ''that stops ageing'' 


vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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