Just a few weeks after the transformation of the University's multipurpose room into a dreamscape for its most recent theater production, the room was again the scene of a series of impassioned performances. This past Friday, NYU Abu Dhabi welcomed its first inter-university debate event with a series of debates about social media, censorship, and privacy, during which the NYUAD teams competed against those from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The fact that the debates were non-competitive did little to take the edge off some heated exchanges.
The daylong program began with breakfast and then the first debate, on the subject, "Facebook does more harm than good." The second debate proposed that "Governments should not hold people criminally liable for the posts they make online," which stirred a number of enthusiastic exchanges before the final debate on the subject, "People who are on social networking are entitled to privacy." The three assembled NYUAD teams included a mix of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. All speakers demonstrated great poise and passion, but also promise, which bodes well for a healthy future of inter-university debate.
After each debate, the three adjudicators offered valuable feedback, speaking primarily to the importance of clarity of argument and presentation. An informal feedback session also proved to be an opportunity for peer feedback and discussion about debating methodologies and the fundamentals of a strong argument.
We aim to organize a regional competition in the near future, drawing in more and more universities from the country to join us in our passion of debating.
Sophomore Norina Miszori, who coordinated the event and is the president of the Debate Society, was pleased with the proceedings. "The NYUAD Debate Society has been debating internally so far, and so it was really refreshing to see others on our campus engage in debate with us," she said. She also noted the effectiveness of the format, as it provided a "safe space" for feedback and allowed experimentation for first-time debaters.
NYUAD junior Juan Felipe Beltran was awarded the best speaker of the day, a testament to his measured rebuttal and composure as third speaker, while freshman Andres Rodriquez was awarded third best speaker of the day for a similarly impressive performance. However, as adjudicator and NYUAD IRB Administrator and Research Coordinator Tammy Aranki so judiciously stated, the debate was ultimately "a win for everyone."
Miszori, who drew confidence from the event and already has plans in mind for the NYUAD Debate Society, said, "We aim to organize a regional competition in the near future, drawing in more and more universities from the country to join us in our passion of debating. We hope that this was the first of many such events." Given that the event was also attended by a number of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi students, who are now "determined" to put together a team, it seems that future debates are already shaping up nicely.