On Monday 14th November, USC relaunched its annual intracampus debate competition. This tournament usually hosted by the School of Education and Humanities, in partnership with the Division of Student Services and Enrolment Management, had as its patron this year, its President, Dr. Colwick Wilson. He re-launched the debate in anticipation of its continuation and developmemt.
The competition first debuted in November, 2013. At that time, it was titled the USC Future Leaders’ Debate Competition. Subsequently, in 2015, it was named in honour of Dr. Shirley McGarrell, a stellar figure and former leader on the campus. The competition was held, during the years 2013 and 2017, but was unintentionally curtailed as the university became involved in other important debate fora and then was further delayed when the pandemic struck. The recent passing of Dr. McGarrell, as well as USC’s 95th Anniversary celebration, propelled its re-launch.
This semester two teams, from two Schools, qualified for the finals: the School of Theology and Religion and the School of Social Sciences. The resolution debated:
Be it resolved that the continued existence of the Commonwealth of Nations is merely a remnant of colonial nostalgia.
This resolution focused on the relevance of the Commonwealth of Nations, which the Queen headed, and is now to be led by King Charles III. The debate teams, with their natural abilities, and a mix of little or no experience, were trained, and presented admirably as they dueled for and against the moot. The School of Social Sciences’ team argued in the affirmative. The School of Theology and Religion’s team opposed the moot.
The timekeeper for the debate was Mr. Hayden McKenna, University Writer and Editor. The Dr. Shirley A. McGarrell’sFuture Leaders’ Debate Committee members are Mr. McKenna, Dr. Terencia Joseph, Mr. Roland Sealy and Ms. Shelley Lyons.
An external panel of adjudicators deliberated and provided appropriate feedback to the debate participants. They were: Chief Adjudicator, Mrs. Petronetta Pierre-Robertson; Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Randall Hector, and special judge and radio personality, Mr. Dale Enoch. Each judge represented an area of expertise to be judged: research skills, argumentation skills and presentation skills.
Dr. Colwick Wilson, President, and Dr. Len Archer, Interim Provost, were present and participated in the prize-giving.
A special guest, alumna, and the current Presiding Officer of the Tobago House of Assembly, Ms. Abby Taylor, was also in attendance and brought greetings from the THA.
The School of Theology and Religion emerged as the winning team.
The School of Social Sciences did very well, falling short by just six points. The most memorable lines came from the SoSS, with Daniel Anthony ending his speech by asking: “Why isn’t the wealth common, in the Commonwealth?” and Brenda Gordon-Rasool taking a cunning jab at team theology in their dapper ties and suits, teasing that they showed up “very colonized in their dressing”. These jabs thrilled the audience.
The members of the teams, who represented in their School colours were:
|School of Theology and Religion (Red)||School of Social Sciences (Blue)|
|Devon Ramlal – 1st Speaker||Ceanna Cyrille – 1st Speaker|
|Termin Ferdinand – 2nd Speaker||Daniel Anthony – 2nd Speaker|
|Dillon Bazil – 3rd Speaker||Brenda Gordon-Rasool – 3rd Speaker|
|Shanka Serrant – Rebuttal Support||Abigail Collins – Rebuttal Support|
|Ashanti Prescott – Reserve|
The other special prizes earned included:
Best Debater, won by Devon Ramlall of the STAR
Best Researcher, won by Ceanna Cyrille of the SoSS
Best Teamwork, the team of Social Sciences
Attractive prizes are to be delivered to the winning teams, inclusive of their special prizes, to the sum of $20,000. The winning team is also to dine with the President, in the near future, as a part of their reward.
Deans and faculty members came out to support. The audience was very responsive, and members of the USC campus community who attended or viewed the debate on YouTube were pleased with the performance of the teams and are eager about the event going forward.
A cocktail reception was held post-debate, at the university’s Board Room with all judges and debaters, organizers, and the President, in attendance.
The competition can be viewed by clicking on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olfd6mwiem4&t=328s