Campus News

Oxford Union Society to visit March 17 for formal debate

The University of Georgia has again challenged the Oxford Union Society to a formal debate, and the Oxford Union has accepted this challenge for the third time. On March 17 at 7 p.m. in the Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall, several of that world-famous organization’s best debaters will compete against an elite UGA team in a hybrid British/American-style debate. The third installment will be of great significance as the series is currently tied.

“Like its previous iterations, the 2008 debate promises to be an hugely exciting event, which will showcase some of the best young thinkers and speakers from both campuses,” said Kalpen Trivdei, director of the UGA at Oxford program. “The topic is timely, provocative and well chosen. I look forward to a second well-deserved UGA victory.”

The debate topic is “Resolved: That the United States federal government should ratify and implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” This topic will likely access such issues as coercive interrogation, federal policy toward genocide and atrocities committed in foreign countries, the U.S. moral, political and social responsibility in places such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Darfur, Sudan.

The Oxford team has elected to argue the affirmative position, and the UGA team will argue the negative.

The Oxford Union was founded in 1823 as an arena for the free exchange of ideas among students, and it soon became the forum for political debate in Oxford. Many British prime ministers have served as past presidents of the Oxford Union, and world figures such as Robert Kennedy, Mother Theresa, Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela have addressed its members. The Union team will be a hand-selected group of “all-stars.”

UGA’s team also will be assembled specially for this event. Drawing from the membership of the Georgia Debate Union, the Demosthenian Literary Society, the Phi Kappa Literary Society, the School of Law and several other organizations, the UGA team will represent the variety of programs the university offers. First team members include: Naveen Ramachandrappa, a law student who participated in the 2003 debate; Josh McLaurin, Foundation Fellow and UGA Debate Union member; Meg Turlington, member of the Mock U.N. and Demosthenian Society; Matthew Williamson, member of Demosthenian Society and a UGA at Oxford alumnus. Alternates include: Andrew Paradis, member of Phi Kappa; Brittany Cambre, UGA Debate Union member; and Spencer Diamond, UGA Debate Union member.

The moderator is Fraser Campbell, former president of the Oxford Union and the captain of the Oxford Union team for the 2003 UGA vs. Oxford Debate.

Distinguished judges for the event include UGA President Michael F. Adams; John Wiles, District 37 senator; John Hinchey, senior partner at King and Spalding-Atlanta; Martin Rickerd, British Consul General in Atlanta; Louise McBee, UGA vice president for academic affairs emerita and former member of the Georgia House of Representatives; Jere Morehead, vice president for instruction; and Superior Court Judge Steve Jones of the Western Judicial Circuit.