Rhetorical fireworks fly as college team hosts debate tournament

As a warm-up for a Bates College-hosted national debate tournament, the Brooks Quimby Debate Council debated Harvard University on the issue “The United States has a moral obligation to spread democracy around the world.” The Bates team argued the affirmative on Thursday evening, March 10, in front of a standing-room-only crowd in Chase Hall Lounge.

Vaibhav Bajpai ’07, Ryan Creighton ’07 and Adrienne Maxwell ’06 represented Bates, while Arianna Kelly, Jason Wen and David Kimel debated for Harvard. Both sides made eloquent and persuasive cases in a verbal duel Bajpai called “an impressive display of rhetorical fireworks.”

Several audience members joined in the debate by standing to speak in support of either team. As judges, the crowd — sporting Bobcat pride but clearly split on the issue under consideration — managed a display of neutrality by calling the competition a draw.

Thursday’s one-on-one with Harvard was followed by a weekend debate tournament featuring some of the country’s top squads. Competing were 60 debaters composing 30 teams from Amherst, Boston University, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Brown, Fordham, Franklin Pierce, Hamilton, Harvard, MIT, Smith, and UMass-Boston. As organizers of the tournament, Bates debaters did not compete.

Several weeks ago, the Bobcats claimed significant victories at a Bowdoin-sponsored tournament attended by Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Brown, Colby, Brandeis, Boston University, Amherst and Smith. The Bates team of sophomores Casey Pfitzner and Vaibhav Bajpai placed third in the varsity division, while Ryan Creighton ’07 placed second in the varsity speaker category. In the novice category, Brendan Jarboe ’08 placed first as speaker and secured a first place in the team category with partner Robert Yamartino ’07.

A significant number of other Bates debaters placed in the competition. Varsity team winners included sophomores Creighton and Mike Neville-O’Neill (sixth); Ben Reed ’08 and Christopher Abbott ’07 (seventh); and seniors Andrew Jarboe and Christopher Laconi (eighth). Varsity speaker awards went to Bajpai (fifth); Neville-’O Neill (seventh); Casey Pfitzner (eighth); and Andrew Jarboe (ninth).

Additional novice prizes were awarded to: sophomores Lou Dennig and Nikolas Dettman (third); Rachael Pool ’07 and Stacy Layton ’05 (fourth); and David Kelly ’08 and Claire McClintock ’07 (fifth). Also placing in the novice speaker category were Reed (fourth) and Yamartino (fifth).

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