Skip to main Content

Hobo Jim among celebrity judges at UAA-Oxford debate

  • Author: Mike Dunham
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published April 28, 2015

Two members of the Oxford University debate team, ranked number two in the world, are in Anchorage to compete against members of the UAA Seawolves team, ranked 17th. The showdown will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, in the Discovery Theatre, two weeks after UAA hosted the U.S. Universities Debating Championships.

Thursday's debate will differ from the national championships in several ways. The proposition to be debated, "This house believes classical music deserves no support beyond that which the market will provide," has been known for months.

The judges are not part of the debating community, but prominent in the field of music, nationally or locally. They include Anne Midgette, the prominent music critic for the Washington Post, cellist Zuill Bailey, director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and -- from somewhere on the Kenai Peninsula -- "Hobo" Jim Varsos, folk troubadour whose songs about Alaska are popular with the regional audiences and who has had work picked up by Nashville artists as well.

Bailey, Midgette and Hobo Jim will score the debaters after they have presented their arguments and rebuttals, but the final verdict will belong to the audience, who will vote by mobile devices.

Oxford will be represented by Matt Handley, who received a bachelor's degree in history from the university in 2014, and Carin Hunt, who has a bachelor's degree in law and is a former English National Champion in debate.

The Seawolves will field Matthieu Ostrander, a senior majoring in economics and political science who won the Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge in Budapest last year, and Jonathon Taylor, a senior majoring in political science, who was named the top novice speaker in the United States in 2014, and is a two-time quarterfinalist at the U.S. Universities Debating Championships.

Tickets are $20, available at Proceeds will benefit the UAA debate program.