Grand Rapids student debater advances at Oxford competition

Brooks-Quimby debater Liam D. Clarke of Grand Rapids, Minn., recently advanced as one of two undergraduates selected to the semifinal round of the Oxford Union Inter-Varsity Debating Competition in Oxford, England.

As one of 78 teams from the United States, Canada and Europe, Clarke and debater Tamara Bucknell-Pogue of Guilford, Conn., advocated the proposition “This house would keep its promises” in a debate against law students from Cambridge, Dublin and Gray’s Inn.

“The Bates team’s advancement was very significant,” said Robert Branham, professor of theater and rhetoric and coach of the debate team. “This is the most important tournament of the year in Great Britain, and the top British teams are generally law or graduate students.” The Bates debaters were the only American pair to advance as far as the semifinals.

Clarke, a political science major and president of the Brooks-Quimby debate council, received the Oren Nelson Hilton/Almon Cyrus Libby Award for outstanding first-year debate and the Claire E. Turner Award for excellence in public debate. A volunteer with the Trinity Church project in his first year, he was a reporter for the campus newspaper in his sophomore year, spent a junior semester studying in Washington, D.C., and was elected to the College Key in1997.

Clarke also serves as a resident coordinator and as president of the Representative Assembly of student government. Clarke, a 1994 graduate of Grand Rapids Senior High School, is the son of James and Patricia Clarke.

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