I really can’t explain why so many of us Viennese people wanted to go to Paris IV. Maybe, it was because of the promised wine and cheese, the good adjudicators or just because it’s Paris. Maybe also because it is one of the rare situations where you will get to hear the Frenchmen speaking English. The Paris Debating Society definitely wants to make British Parliamentary Debating more popular in France. We believe they have succeeded.
The Debattierklub Wien sent 3 teams, Vienna Vice (Leonhard Weese, Christoph Jäger), Vienna Virtue (Rosie Halmi, Jakob Reiter) and Vienna Vigour (Melanie Sindelar, Lio Kaufman), as well as 3 adjudicators, namely Sabine Rainalter, Karoline Lutz and Diego Heatherman.
Together we were 9 people and probably one of the biggest delegations that came to Paris IV. It all started off on Friday, the first motion read as following: THW Ban Public Sector Strikes in Times of High Government Debt. After the first round, the organizers decided to stuff us with French wine and cheese, something that could be very dangerous for the quality of round 2, as everyone tried to fill themselves up with tasty red wine – however, you’ll never know what to expect for the socials (and indeed, it was a good decision to drink as if there was no tomorrow – more on that later). A little bit dizzy, we went to prep for round 2: THB That France Should Open Its Borders to Any Migrant from One of Its Former Colonies.
In the evening, we went to the social – which provided us, fair enough, with free beer for everyone – but still there was nothing offered to buy for those people that do not like beer, and they kicked us out at 12 pm, so unsurprisingly many debaters protested. However, from the view of this author – it was not a bad idea. The next day started with debates really early in the morning – this is definitely not the laissez-faire style we are normally used from French people.
Saturday came up with three rounds that had to be passed:
Round 3: TH Supports the Establishment of ‘Harvey Milk Schools’ in Europe (The Harvey Milk School is a school in New York for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Young People)
Round 4: THW Use Partition To Solve Civil Wars in Divided Societies
Round 5: THB That It Is Immoral To Donate To Animal Charities Whilst Humans Are Dying of Poverty
In between, we were provided with Chinese food and cookies to gain power for the lasts rounds.
Shortly after round 5 was finished, the break and motion for the main semi finals and ESL finals were announced. At this time, some of the debaters already had to leave for flying back where they initially came from- including the author of this article – the ongoing remarks about semis and finals come now from team Vienna Virtue, Jakob Reiter.
Given that Paris is usually considered the capital of good taste and pretty women, the CA team around Ben Woolgar and Maja Cimerman chose quite a thought provoking motion for the main break final:
THBT women wearing high heels are no more free than women wearing the burqa.
The debate indeed turned out to be a sharp analysis of mating, relationships, beauty ideals and social pressure that carried on in various discussions after the final.
Being pressured into pretty evening clothes ourselves by the org comm the debaters were quite curious on what venue would follow the ordinary lecture hall of Science Po.
Following the finals, a couple of petites fours were served in the lobby of the university, accompanied by champagne and wine. Not having eaten something since the Chinese food provided 8 hours earlier this was quite disappointing, especially since midnight Paris is a culinary wasteland.
The winners, Png Zhiheng and John Ashbourne from the London School of Economics were announced at a bar nearby, whose speeches in the final were truly remarkable.
The crowd then moved on to the Pont des Arts, which, due to skyrocketing bar prices, has become a haven for tourists and locals to drink their self brought spirits.
Thank you Universités of Paris for organizing such a nice tournament, providing such great socials and bringing together a great crowd of debaters and adjudicators!