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Seawolf Speakers Claim Major European Title


UAA debaters are first North Americans to win Cork Intervarsity tournament

ANCHORAGE, AK – James Kilcup and Michael Imeson, the Seawolf Debate program’s top debating duo, claimed top honors over the weekend at the Cork Intervarsity, the last major debating competition in Europe prior to the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC). The Cork IV draws teams from the UK and Western Europe for three days of intensive competition in the British Parliamentary debating format—the same format employed at the World Championships.

After debating five preliminary rounds on topics ranging from whether the West should negotiate with a divided Palestine to whether the U.S. should fund abortions through public health insurance, Kilcup and Imeson advanced to the single-elimination phase of the tournament ranked 2nd of the 72 teams entered in the competition. They were the only North American team in an elimination round field that included teams from Trinity College Dublin, Kings College London and Cambridge.

The Seawolves faced a tough team from Cambridge in their semifinal round, where they were assigned to oppose the motion “The state should assist citizens seeking a cure for homosexuality.” Arguing that current “treatment” programs for homosexuality are based more in ideology than medical science, the Seawolves advanced and left the Cambridge team behind

The final round was a formal affair, set in the great Aula Maxima hall on the University College Cork campus. Kilcup and Imeson were not only the sole North American representatives in the final round, but also the only non-Irish team that made the cut. The proposition, “This house would emigrate,” was designed to consider the stark economic realities in Ireland. Following a decade that saw the dramatic rise of the “Celtic Tiger,” Ireland—like much of Europe—has fallen on hard times during the global economic downturn. The Alaskans were assigned the opposition position to the motion and expected to argue that young Irish, in particular, should not leave their home country in search of better economic opportunities

Arguing that the Irish Diaspora has faced significant hardship outside of Ireland in other economic crises, and that the economic conditions in Ireland, while dire, are likely to improve given Ireland’s heavy investment in education and information technology infrastructure, the Alaska team received a standing ovation at the end of their effort. When the adjudication panel announced the Alaskans as the tournament champions, the audience again rose to its feet. Kilcup and Imeson are the first North American team ever to win the prestigious Cork IV.

The Seawolves are home for three weeks of intensive practice prior to their trip to the WUDC in Turkey. That tournament—the largest debating competition on the globe—will feature student competitors from around the world gathered for a week of debating some of the most pressing issues of the day. Given their performance over the fall semester—which has included three tournament championships and second place in the other three tournaments they’ve attended—the UAA students are optimistic about their chances against the best in the world.

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