Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Yale-Princeton Debate in Ardsley, Nov. 4

Yale and Princeton will be the featured college teams at the 20th annual Westchester debate competition Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, sponsored by YWAA and Princeton's Westchester alumni group. For the first time, Ardsley High School will host the event, which features, too, a high-school competition. The college debaters will kick off at 7:15 pm.

Yale alumni in the region are invited to attend. There is no fee. Richard Bradley '86 returns for the third year in a row as moderator.

Yale has won the last two competitions, held at Hackley School and Byram Hills High School. Brown won the 2013 competition, hosted by Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook.

The format calls for the college teams to spar first. Earlier in the evening, debaters will be told the topic and will be instructed which side to take--for or against.  Topics in the past years have been tied to politics or global affairs and aren't easily resolved in a hour's showdown. In the past two years, the collegians were asked to debate the U.S.'s engagement with ISIS and the possibility of slavery reparations. 

In the format, Yale and Princeton will present their initial arguments and then have the chance to rebut, follow up and contest the views of the opposing side. 

Judges, who in the past two years have been Westchester attorneys and judges, will assess the arguments and pay attention to delivery, style, logic, and conviction. They will choose a winner and often take a moment in the end to provide for both teams constructive criticism.

Six high-school teams will follow. In past years, the college teams assist the students in preparing their arguments.  For the local students, the topics are no less challenging.  Last year, high-school squads were asked to debate whether there should be an increase in the minimum wage or whether narcotic drugs should be decriminalized.

The annual debate competition is funded in part by the William Nightingale '53 Fund.  Nightingale continues as one of the event organizers, along with Susan Kaminsky '86 and Princeton alumnus Martin Sklar.

Debaters from Yale and Princeton (above) took the podium at Byram Hills High School during the 2015 competition. (YWAA photos)

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