The Official Page for the Patrick Henry College British Parliamentary Debate Team
[Taken from the Patrick Henry College Website] Worlds Universities Debate Format, also known as British Parliamentary Debate or British Parli, is considered the most prestigious form of collegiate debate throughout the world. PHC competes in British Parli as its primary form of debate amongst the powerhouses of Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Sydney, Oxford, Toronto, the London School of Economics, and more. Participants compete in teams of two and rely on general knowledge, understanding of current events, and quick wits to win rounds, since the topic of debate is only released fifteen minutes before each round and changes with each new set of opponents. PHC’s strong academic environment supplies students with ready lines of argument and the wit to employ them with style and grace. What differentiates British Parli from other forms of Parliamentary debate amongst colleges is the structure of the debate. Instead of a normal two-on-two round, British Parli features rounds with four two-person teams, two of which represent the government side in the debate, while the other two represent the opposition. Immediately following the round, the judging panel ranks the teams from first to last. Unlike policy debate, there is no prep time once in the round and no cross-examinations. Instead, speakers are allowed to stand and ask “points of information” during speeches. British Parli presents unique opportunities for traveling abroad. Students have and will visit Toronto, Cambridge, Oxford, and Berlin internationally, as well as regional colleges in Rochester, Cape Cod, and Vermont. Recently, two freshmen, Ryan McDonald and Joseph Samelson, took home a victory in the novice finals at the Rochester tournament. This was the first of hopefully many victories for the PHC Debate squad.
Mission: "The Patrick Henry College debate team will be a prestigious group of committed speakers, characterized by their principled excellence, cultural engagement, and spiritual vigor."
10 Patrick Henry Cir
In 2010, the Patrick Henry College debate team stood at a crossroads. Traditional, or “American-style,” avenues of parliamentary debate had witnessed a deterioration in quality. A focus on “speed-and-spread” argumentation - essentially, spitting out as many arguments as possible in a short time, with no regard for actual substance or communication - caused a jarring transition for PHC debaters fresh off the NCFCA/Stoa circuit. And then, PHC discovered Worlds - or “British Parliamentary” - debate. With only 15 minutes of preparation time, BP debaters are thrust into high-stakes arguments centered on critical current-events topics (example: “This house would put boots on the ground in Syria”). Four teams of two speakers each - two defending the Proposition in question, and two opposing - employ logic, charisma, and razor-sharp wit to achieve success. Combining extemporaneous and impromptu speaking skills with elements of both team-policy and Lincoln-Douglas debating styles, British Parli proved to be truly the best of all worlds. In this new league, PHC quickly established itself as a school to be reckoned with. When two PHC freshmen brought home a victory in the novice finals at Rochester, this point was driven home with force. In 2011, 2 PHC teams competed at the annual Inter-Varsity tournament in Cambridge, England, foreshadowing a coming emphasis on international travel. Aiming for success on the world stage, in 2012 PHC sent teams to Toronto, Oxford, and Cambridge. When PHC finished in the top 20% of teams at Oxford, a powerful message was sent to the rest of academia: Christian conservatives aren’t afraid of engaging the culture; instead, they’re shattering outmoded stereotypes without compromising integrity. The 2012-2013 season was further highlighted by PHC’s finish, with a winning record, at the 2013 World Universities Debating Championship in Berlin, Germany. As PHC’s debate team continues to ascend up the global rankings, its members and coaches are eager to see what the future holds.
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