Abu Dhabi Students Win NYU Global Debate Challenge

For the first time, NYU Abu Dhabi students have won the NYU Global Debate competition, an annual contest open to NYU students worldwide, from New York to Shanghai to Paris to Madrid.

Seniors David Alexander Nyikos and Corey Meyer emerged victorious through three elimination rounds and a final debate, breaking a winning legacy that has belonged to students based in New York since the tournament started in 2012.

This year’s competition was held May 2-4 in New York City and awarded prizes of more than $50,000. Participants debated whether the world is a safer place now than it was 10 years ago. Meyer and Nyikos argued, it is.

“Our place in the UAE gave us a competitive advantage because a lot of our opponents would solely focus on conflicts in the Middle East. It was nice to be able to defend the position of the world being a much safer place now based on personal experience”, said Meyer.

In particular, studying in the Middle East, he said, means drawing fewer generalizations about topics like the war in Syria and ISIS.

“We were able to personalize our arguments and look at the bigger picture on issues ranging from food security to medicine to global crime rates.”

Our place in the UAE gave us a competitive advantage.

Corey Meyer

There were three elimination rounds culminating to the finals, which were judged by a VIP panel of NYU faculty members. In the finals, Meyer and Nyikos went up against a team from NYU New York.

Meyer said, “Our opponents focused on the economy and quantitative easing. Luckily, I took a class last semester with a visiting professor from UCLA, Dr. Ronald Rogowski, and so we spoke a lot about the financial crisis, which propelled our case and gave us the knowledge we needed to shut down their argument”.

Both Meyer and Nyikos said the mentorship of their coach, John Coughlin, professor of religious studies and law, was the driving force behind their success.

“In New York, John was there the whole time. His coaching was phenomenal because he was not going to read our case or do the work for us but was always there to encourage us, and give us pointers. So that was very helpful.”

Nyikos, who has been participating in the tournament for the past three years, enjoys the cross-examination format of a debate because it's unpredictable; anything can happen.
“I think doing debate in general helps you in a lot of ways,” he said. “It gives you the ability to respond in a really concise way and to think on the spot. This kind of debate also emphasizes speaking well and performing well, which is useful no matter what.”

In the fall, students abroad who were interested in participating uploaded a four-minute video stating their arguments for or against the proposed resolution, while students in New York participated in preliminary rounds on campus. A committee of faculty, graduate students and other NYU community members judged the teams and selected 16 finalists, known as the ‘Sweet 16’.

Four teams of two students each qualified from NYUAD.

Coach Coughlin said NYUAD students proved themselves “intelligent, knowledgeable, respectful, calm and persuasive. They were a reflection of the excellent education afforded by NYUAD.”