SOAS IV 2010 – Rosie Halmi about debating in London

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By Vienna’s International Society

January 5, 2011

The SOAS IV wooed with reduced fees, compelling motions, an excellent pool of judges and its international character. Even if accommodation remains rudimentary and catering was more or less nonexistent, this tournament should not be missed by those seeking valuable debating experience, judging insights or just don’t want to miss an opportunity to stroll along the streets of London.

On our Debating Gamut* this tournaments ranks as follows:


Tournament Focus: Debating   —I——————————- Tourism

Subsistence:            Comfort     ——————————I—- Survival

Participants:            Familiar     ———————–I———– International

Organization:          Minimalist  ——-I————————— Ambitious

*Debating Gamut: Courtesey of Stefan Zweiker

“Debate requires the constant challenging of the status quo, of dogma and of received wisdom”, debating in a nutshell explained by Jon Snow, best known for presenting Channel 4 news, at the opening of the final SOAS IV final.

In this spirit the School of Oriental and Asian Studies hosted 116 teams at the Russell Square and Vernon Square Campus debating motions on polygamy, religion instruction, Liuxiabo and nucs. With 6 pre-rounds, ESL and Open finals the SOAS IV was the biggest British debating event the Fall season 2010 had to offer. The SOAS debating society that had hosted two years earlier tournaments of just half of that size now branches out to a diversified crowed, gathering teams from India, China, South Africa, the USA and all across Europe. International participants are incentivized through reduced fees and yes, the discount also applied to our Irish fellows.

The DKWien-Team: Agniezka Bibro and Paul Lisowski
The DKWien-Team: Agniezka Bibro and Paul Lisowski

If the royal capital is not reason enough to attend then definitely the outlook to break should be a winning argument. 8 out of 13 ESL teams broke to their allocated semi finals. Agniezka Bibro and Paul Lisowski bravely competed for the Debattierklub Wien leaving behind them quite a few British teams.

The workshop slated for Friday evening turned out to be a practice debate for newbies with humble feedback. In turn the orga team pulled off a remarkable job to fit five rounds for 232 debaters on Saturday a sixth round, quarter as well as semi-finals and finals on Sunday without excessive delays.

Even when sponsored by Pinsent Masons, one of the top UK law firms, financing such an IV is a rough job, as the convener Mark Eastham admits in a moment of weakness. “The biggest challenge is to break even”, it seems that most British IVs are known to generate losses. So food was on our own.

Cambridge H (Harish Natarajan and Matilda Wnek) won the SOAS IV defeating Kings College London A (Jordan Anderson and Daniel Berman), Loyola (Emily Ravenscroft and Bobby Cashen) and Cambridge E (Jack Watson and Maria English) debating the motion “This House would lift the international ban on the use of child soldiers” in the final.


The Motions:

FRI 15.10.2010

Workshop practice debate: THW pay immigrants to go home

SAT 16.10.2010

Round 1. THW legalise polygamy

Round 2. THW ban the media reporting on the details of violent crime

Round 3. With the benefit of hindsight TH regrets the awarding of the Nobel peace prize of Liuxiabo

Round 4. THW ban children from receiving any religious instructions

Round 5. THW make no effort to prevent states without nuclear weapons from acquiring them

SUN 17.10

Round 6. THB that only women should vote on abortion

ESL Round 7. THW make electoral promises binding to political parties, the breaking of which would trigger immediate elections

ESL Final. THBT a jury of one’s peers consist of people of the same socioeconomic, gender and racial background

Quarter Final

Round 7. THW manipulate History to teach moral lessons

Semi Final

Round 8. THBT  Roman Catholics who attend mess are answerable for the views expressed by the church


THW remove the international ban of Child soldiers



Rosie Halmi /msi


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