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Global hat trick for Monash debaters

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17 January 2013

2013 world debating champions Nita Roa and James Beavis
2013 world debating champions Nita Roa and James Beavis

Articulate Monash University students have beaten teams from Oxford, Yale and Sydney University to take out the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) for the third consecutive year - an achievement unmatched in the tournament's 31-year history.

Team Monash "B" - consisting of Arts/Law graduand Nita Rao and James Beavis, currently studying Science/Law, took out the grand final by arguing for religious freedom from state intervention. 

Their victory follows the successes of Victor Finkel and Fiona Prowse in 2011, and Amit Golder and Kiran Iyer in 2012.

Chris Bissett, who was competing on team Monash "A" won the award for best speaker, conjointly with Pam Cohn from the University of London. Monash students Victor Finkel (2011), Kylie Lane (2005) and Ben Richards (1994) have previously taken out the Best Speaker of the World honour.

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Ed Byrne, said the entire Monash community was proud of the Monash Association of Debaters (MAD). 

"It is a wonderful reflection on the University, our standard of teaching and our aim to create an environment that encourages independent thought that we have continually produced such highly-successful debaters," Professor Byrne said.

Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor David Copolov congratulated the debaters. 

"The University aspires to be world's best at many of its endeavours, but the Monash Association of Debaters unequivocally translates this aspiration into reality - year after year," Professor Copolov said.

The world's largest debating competition, WUDC 2013 was at the Technische Universität Berlin in Germany.

Students from more than 70 nations competed in the event, which follows the British Parliamentary format where two teams support and two oppose a proposition.

Nita said the "incredible" win belonged to every member of MAD.

"We could not have won without the support and training from the club," Nita said.

"Monash has now won Worlds an unprecedented three times in a row and that is because of the hard work and dedication of everyone at MAD." 

The entire MAD contingent performed strongly with the Monash "A" team of Chris Bisset and Madeline Schultz, and "C" team of Nicole Franklin and Stephen Moore making the Quarter-Finals and Double-Octo Finals respectively. Also, Madeline Schultz and Nita Rao were ranked fourth and 10th overall respectively in the best speaker competition.

"Thank you to the Vice-Chancellor, who continues to facilitate our attendance at major international tournaments and to the Monash Association of Debaters. Also, thank you to our mentor, MAD President Gemma Buckley," Nita said.

The debaters also thanked the dedicated supporters who accompanied them to the tournament, or who watched the live online stream of the debates in the early hours in Australia.

In addition to the most recent victories, Monash has taken out the WUDC in 1999 and 2000. In 2012, University debaters won both the Australasian Championships and the international event, The Red Sea Open.