By Nazeefa Ahmed, November 23 2023—
On Nov. 18 and 19, the University of Calgary Debate Society (UCDS) co-hosted the British Parliamentary Championships with the University of Alberta Debate Society. The tournament hosted 50 teams from various Canadian universities with a team from Western University securing the championship.
In the past, the University of Alberta Debate Society hosted the 2021 tournament online, as well as an in-person of this tournament in 2007.
In an interview with the Gauntlet, UCDS president Siddharth Chopra describes how hosting the tournament was a big milestone for the club, as international teams used to participate in the event during the pandemic.
“It’s the biggest Canadian tournament for the British Parliamentary to exist. I think it’s one of the two that even brings global attention. I know there were top teams from Croatia who were part of the BP Championships when it was online three years ago,” said Chopra. “So that is how big the tournament is on a world stage.”
Over the years, the UCDS has had many political leaders participate in the club, such as former prime minister Stephen Harper, former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi as well as current premier Danielle Smith.
The club has 150 active members who debate weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the academic year. UCDS Vice President Outreach Sana Wahab describes how the long history and active engagement of the debate club allow for the club to support itself.
“Because of how involved everyone in the debate circuit is, we tend to always have enough financial resources to sustain our events and keep them going as well,” said Wahab.
Equity Director Anna Olesen states how her experiences and conversations at UCDS improve critical thinking.
“You can feel your critical thinking skills getting so much better just being able to look at everything from multiple sides and really think in-depth,” said Olesen.
Chopra described how UCDS gives students the opportunity to escape echo chambers by exposing them to differing perspectives and ways of knowing.
“I’ve realized in university, especially interacting with people, that sometimes you become a part of an echo chamber where you have the same idea, and the person you are friends with has the same idea,” said Chopra. “So you don’t really understand something new, or you don’t learn something new. It’s important to get out of these echo chambers before it’s too late — before you’re into professional life.”
In her concluding remarks, Wahab encouraged students to find community at UCDS, stating that the club is welcoming to all people.
“Anyone who’s looking to become a part of a community, we’re definitely the club to go to, because I know a lot of students want friends outside of lectures, and this is one place where you can actively engage in open conversations,” said Wahab.
“Readers should know that we’re like a family, and there’s no pressure on you. We will cater to the way you want to develop and grow in debate,” said Wahab.
Prospective members are encouraged to attend and observe the weekly debates in Science A in room 15 or sign up using the link on their Instagram profile.