Haifa U students named World debating champs

Students Meir Yarom and Michael Shapiro represented the school at the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) in Botswana.

January 5, 2011 03:13
1 minute read.
Haifa University debate champions

Haifa U debate champions 311. (photo credit: Anat Zeidenberg/Haifa University)

Haifa University’s debate team has been awarded first place in the world’s largest and most prestigious debating competition in the English-as-a-second language category.

Students Meir Yarom and Michael Shapiro represented the school at the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) in Botswana during the past week, where more than 300 teams from 150 different universities, representing 50 countries participated.

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Yarom, a law student, and Shapiro, a philosophy student, progressed through nine preliminary rounds, where they contested and defeated native English-speaking teams, and finally made it into the final rounds. The competition was comprised of three categories: Mother-tongue English, for university debating teams from Great Britain, the United States, Ireland and Australia; English- as-a-second language (ESL), in which most European countries and Israel compete; and Englishas- a-foreign language (EFL).

Competing in the English-as-asecond language category, last year’s team made it to the final round, but this year Yarom and Shapiro managed to defeat contestants from the Netherlands, Slovenia and Malaysia in the final round, earning the titles World Debating Champions for 2011.

The talented duo debated a number of challenging motions, eventually triumphing in the last stage. Their successful debate on the motion “this house believes that the courts should break up consistently dominant political parties” led them to victory.

Motions that they contended with in earlier rounds included matters of privacy on the Internet, prohibiting teacher union strikes and rights to possess nuclear weapons.

Over the past decade Haifa University has been consistently successful at various championships held in Israel and abroad, including achievements at the European Debating Championships. Trained by Uri Zakai at the University of Haifa Debating Society, the team made it to nine international finals and 20 international debating rounds.

Having won the Israeli National Championship five times and various smaller competitions, they have shown their university that its investments in debating teams have clearly paid off.

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