Thursday, November 10, 2016

Debate Duel in Ardsley

Ardsley High School was the host for the 20th annual Westchester Debate Competition, Nov. 4. The Yale squad faced Princeton. Both teams were asked to debate a topic tied to free trade and free markets. (YWAA photos)

Another year meant another close call with Princeton declared the winner for 2016. (YWAA photos)
This could have been a debate that evokes memories of 2016 Trump-Clinton showdowns that melted into prime-time fury. But it wasn't. It was a more civil, more pleasant form of debate. It was Yale vs. Princeton at the Westchester annual debate competition, sponsored by YWAA and Princeton-Westchester, held at Ardsley High School, Nov. 4.

The fury, intensity, and spark were there. The debaters fiercely challenged statements, points of view and rationale.  Yale debaters eyed their Princeton foes and stood up to disagree.  Princeton debaters sometimes ignored Yale debaters when they requested to rebut a point. 

In the end, unlike the better known president-candidate debaters on a national stage, Yale and Princeton were respectful of each other, shook hands and hugged each other while they waited for judges to deliberate.

This year's competition, the 20th annual, was close, as many of them are. The Ardsley auditorium was filled with students, parents, teachers and a handful of Yale alumni (over 200 in the room).  Judges grasped to make a decision and declared Princeton the winner (after Yale's victory over Princeton last year). 

This year's topic was likely addressed in more detail than the showings from the current year's presidential nominees.  Yale and Princeton debaters analyzed the topic:  Are markets and economies better with the erosion of borders?  And they examined the pros and cons of free-trade agreements and tariffs as if they were economics graduate students.

Sophie Hyeon Park '19 of Seoul, Korea, and Michael Bogarty '19 of Scarsdale represented Yale.  The Princeton team included An Lahn Le and B. Srinivasan.

Back and forth they went. They discussed protectionism and globalization. They pondered the economies of India, Cambodia, Viet Nam, and China. Yale was asked to argue against free trade. Princeton was assigned the other side.

Finally the final gong went off to end the debate, and judges (local officials Delores Brathwaite, Walter Rivera, and Joshua Levin, who returned for the third straight year) rendered the decision.

Following the Princeton win, six high-school teams took the stage. They, too, were asked to address brain-churning, topical issues:  (a) Should merit-based scholarships replace need-based aid in colleges? (b) Is a multi-party political system better than a two-party system? (c) Should the government support human exploration in space?

Host school Ardsley, cheered on by dozens of fellow students, competed against the Masters School.  Hackley, which hosted the competition two years ago, faced Horace Greeley.  Fox Lane debated Yonkers-Lincoln.  Judges pronounced Greeley the overall high-school victor.  Winners (Sophie
Saremsky and Michelle Tong) and their school received scholarships, funded by the Nightingale Debate Fund.

YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53 himself was once again the debate's co-Chair, along with YWAA board member Susan Kaminsky '86 and Princeton-Westchester's president Martin Sklar.  Richard Bradley '86 was the moderator for the third year in a row. 
Bill Nightingale '53 (above), a Co-Chair of the event, greeted the audience before the evening debate. Below left, moderator Richard Bradley '86 explains the debate rules to the audience.

Debaters from each team, one by one, took the podium to explain their points of view or rebut the arguments from the other side. Below, members of both teams congratulated each other and chatted about college life. (YWAA photos)

YWAA president Tim Mattison '73 (above) congratulated the Yale squad for its efforts. (YWAA photos)
The judges conferred and, minutes later, declared Princeton the 2016 winner.  High school debaters (above) took the stage afterward. (YWAA photos)
Above, Martin Sklar (top,L) of Princeton-Westchester greets the college debaters.  Participants in the high school debate gather on the Ardsley stage.  The trio of judges (Delores Brathwaite, Joshua Levin and Walter Rivera) returned for the third consecutive year.

Debaters from all high schools joined event organizers Bill Nightingale '53, Susan Kaminsky '86 and Princeton alumnus Martin Sklar on the stage after the competition.

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