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Wesleyan Humanist Organization hosts student debates

Wesleyan Humanist Organization vice president Mary Collins address debate participants on Tuesday. Behind her is organization president Nasrullah Sailab. Photo by Nicholas Acosta

The Wesleyan Humanist Organization is holding academic debates this month, and the winner will be named Speaker of Wesleyan.

The goal of the debates, which run through Nov. 10 and are being held in the Ella C. McFadden Science Center, is to break down the barriers between international and domestic students, said organization President Nasrullah Sailab.

“I made this organization last semester, but we were not so active because it took us some time to recruit people,” said Sailab, a political science and criminal justice sophomore. “We would do anything to help out the university in order to get better in terms of communication and understanding.”

Sailab said he didn’t want these debates to be just a fight to the death. Instead, the four debates will use international debate forms. These forms are extempore, turncoat, and outspoken; each participant will be given a topic and have 60 seconds to prepare before they go onstage, and then two minutes to speak.

“There are a lot of different debate forms and these styles are more sophisticated,” Sailab said. “Whether you’re in the audience listening to the other side or your speaking to the other side is always good to know a different perspective.”

Senior political science major Mary Collins, WHO’s vice president, said the idea for the debates came completely from Sailab.

“For the first three events it will be different national issues and whoever wins will qualify and go to the last one, which will cover an international issue,” Collins said.

Collins said she believes this is a good way to have students interact with each other.

“I think it’s a good way to get people out of their comfort zone,” Collins said. “There are people who are not political science majors that are participating and that really surprised me.”

Dean of Freshmen Success Joe Brown is the advisor for the organization and said that these debates have always been on the agenda for the group. Brown is also tasked with finding judges to decided winner for the events.

“Three people per debate to keep it fair within a voting system of who they think is the most qualified winner,” Brown said. 

Sailab said the debates are open to all Wesleyan students; those wishing to participate can go to the Office of Student Engagement in the Brown-Lupton Campus Center or send Sailab an email at [email protected]. The remaining debates will be held from during free period from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, Nov. 8 and Nov. 10. The winner will receive a cash prize of $200.


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Wesleyan Humanist Organization hosts student debates