Debaters present lively discussion of First Amendment rights

Members of the Brooks Quimby Debate Council pose during a fall 2007 debating trip to the United Kingdom.

Members of Bates College’s award-winning Brooks Quimby Debate Council present a lively public discussion about censorship and First Amendment rights at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St. Part of The Big Read L-A program sponsored by the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries, the event is open to the public free of charge.

Six Bates debaters will argue the resolution “This house believes communities have the right to ban books from school libraries.” Books as current as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling or as enduring as Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” will come under fire, says Andrea Curtis, interim Bates debate coach.

Three proposition and three opposition debaters will face off. In addition to the organized speeches, the audience will be invited to present floor speeches supporting either side during the round. No experience is necessary, and the community’s participation is welcomed in this conversation, says Curtis.

“The Brooks Quimby Debate Council has a long history of encouraging public and controversial dialogue within our public debate presentations,” Curtis says.

Bates debaters look forward to this presentation. “It’s going to be a fun event that should help teach local students about the world of debate,” says sophomore Ariela Silberstein of New York City. “Working in collaboration with the Lewiston Public Library affords us a unique opportunity to reach out and speak in front of people other than college students.”

The other five Bates participants are first-year student Peter Gault of Darien, Conn.; sophomore Rachel Kurzius of Ridgewood, N.J.; junior Jared Levy of Ardmore, Pa.; sophomore Matthew Marienthal of Chicago, Ill.; and first-year Nathaniel Sweet of Sharon, Mass.

The Bates College debate team ranks fourth in the United States, according to the compiled results of all U.S. collegiate debate teams who competed in the 2008 World Universities Debating Championships, held in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Big Read is a nationwide initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of U.S. culture by encouraging citizens to read, discuss and celebrate a single book within their communities through a series of special events. “Fahrenheit 415” by Ray Bradbury is the focus of Lewiston-Auburn’s 2008 Big Read L-A program.

Free copies of “Fahrenheit 415” are available at the circulation desks of both libraries while quantities last. More information on other Big Read L-A programs are available through either library’s Web site: or

blank image

View Comments