UAA debaters second among US schools in international event

Mike Dunham
Photo courtesy UAA

A UAA Seawolves debate squad ranked among the top finishers at the World Universities Debating Championships at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines from Dec. 27 to Jan. 4.

The squad, consisting of four two-person teams drawn from about 30 students in the school's debate program, took second place among American colleges participating in the world championship of intercollegiate debate.

The Seawolves beat Harvard, Stanford, Colgate and Cornell, among others. Only Yale University received more points than the Alaskans.

They tied for eighth place in an international field of 195 universities from 43 countries, including perennial powerhouses Oxford and Harvard.

A total of 400 teams took part in nine preliminary rounds.

"There were like 100 debates going on at once," said the Seawolves' debate coach Steve Johnson.

Only 32 teams could advance to the elimination rounds.

At the end of the preliminaries, the UAA team of Colin Haughey (senior, philosophy) and Brett Frazer (senior, natural sciences) were ranked 23rd. They were one of just six American teams to make it that far. The United States had the largest representation of any nation at the championship, with 64 teams participating.

Haughey and Frazer drew the task of opposing the breakup of media monopolies in the first elimination round. They did not advance, but were ranked among the top 5 percent of teams in the tournament.

As a squad, the Seawolf contingent particularly excelled.

According to tournament rules, the winner of each round is awarded three points. Two points go to the runner-up, one point to third place and nothing for the team judged least effective. The points are aggregated for each squad.

When the tournament ended, UAA had accumulated an impressive 64 points. That edged out Stanford (63), Cornell (62) and Colgate (59). Harvard garnered 53. Yale led the American schools with 72 points.

A pair of Stanford students were the only Americans to make it to the final four. They faced two Australian contingents and the Oxford debaters. Monash University, which has several campuses, mostly around Melbourne, Australia, was the final victor.

One more score remains to be decided, the world rankings. Johnson hopes his squad's latest finish will put the Seawolves into the international top 10. UAA was ranked 12th in the world in 2010 and moved up to 11th in 2011.

"The rankings are based on the past five years' scores in international competition," Johnson said. "But we won't have them until sometime in February."

Final standings

World Universities Debating Championships

Dec. 27, 2011-Jan. 4, 2012

American schools

1. Yale University 72

2. UAA 64

3. Stanford University 63

4. Cornell University 62

5. Colgate University 59

6. Harvard University 53

7. Bates College 48 (tie)

7. Claremont Colleges 48 (tie)

7 .University of Vermont 48 (tie)

10. Swarthmore College 47

International schools

1. Sydney University (Australia) 107

2. Oxford University (England) 104

3. Monash University (Australia) 97

4. Australian National University 75

5. Yale University (USA) 72

6. Melbourne Univ. (Australia) 70

7. McGill University (Canada) 67

8. UAA 64

8. National Univ. Singapore 64

10. Queensland Univ. (Australia) 63

10. Stanford University (USA) 63

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.

Anchorage Daily News