Last weekend, a group of 14 intrepid young debaters undertook a journey to bring the WDS spirit to Bath. We left after session on Friday and hastily grabbed taxis to go to the gates of hell (sorry Coventry station) in order to make our way to nicer climes. Despite temporarily losing Cristiana and Cassandra, we all had a great time on the train down, discussing what would be in store for the weekend ahead and getting to know each other a lot better. Whilst learning to pronounce each other’s name, we managed to prepare the newer debaters on how exactly inter-university competitions work. Trying to come up with creative team names (a proud Warwick tradition) was interesting- and we eventually settled on a batch of ‘War’ puns. In the end, the teams were:
Warwick of the Roses (Dan and Chloe)
Cold Warwick (Petrus and Ionut)
Warwick on Terror (Antonin and Simon)
Warwick on Drugs (Ozlem and Felix)
The Great Warwick (Cristiana and Cassandra)
After we arrived in Bath, we made our way to a pub to have a few drinks with a few teams from other universities. After this, we made our way to our ‘crash’, which was a house of one of the Bath debaters, and where we would be staying for Friday and Saturday night. Although a bit cramped, it was a real laugh and is sort of like camping, just with toilets and without rain.
Having woken up, we got the bus to Bath University, which is nearly as pretty as the city, and rejoined some of the other debaters who crashed at different houses in the lecture theatre which would serve as the competition base. Soon after, the debating begun with a really good workshop, where even experienced debaters learned a lot. Soon after, the actual debating was about to begin… (cue muttering)…
In a rush of rustling bags and paper, the first motion was announced. The youthful debaters dashed towards their rooms, murmuring incomplete wiles to each other. The judges looked about the empty room, askance, as never before had such enthusiasm been seen; Maxine’s motion had clearly set hearts alight- should male and female sport be given equal coverage? After an hour of intense debating, the gavels fell, the calls were made and their honourable chairpeople had delivered their judgements.
Armed with their (excellent) feedback, debaters returned to base- some contemplative, others… not. Before we knew it, the next stage was due and another high quality workshop was followed by another roll of the tab and another motion. Equally boisterously, debaters left, and then returned. Again, there was good news and bad. However, what was clear was that everyone had enjoyed another debate and had improved a lot since the first one.
After this, we broke for lunch and we were able to explore the delights of the Bath University campus (which was way prettier than Warwick in basically every way). Having finished our respective culinary delights, we retreated to base and dispersed once more for another motion. By this time it was clear that Chloe and Dan were on for a break- big time- as well as an outside chance for Ionut and Petrus. As Warwick Judges aren’t really allowed to judge Warwick speakers, we were frustratingly excluded from watching our debaters first hand, but we heard excellent reports.
After a wonderful workshop from Maxine on rebuttal, we were about to announce a motion for the fourth and final time. After a tense final round, we all congregated in a cafeteria for pizza. However this time there was another crucial difference- closed adjudication. No one knew how they had done, and who had broken to the final. Sick of the tension …and cheese… everyone returned to the lecture theatre for the announcement.
Agony and ecstasy. Dan and Chloe had won all four of their rounds to break 1st, but alas our other hopefuls had lost out and came 5th – denied only by a single team point (the equivalent of getting one place higher in one round). The final followed, and for the first time we were able to marvel at the quality of our speakers, but after a ferocious debate sadly it was not to be and Exeter performed the greatest smash-and-grab since the great train robbery.
As tradition dictates, we left campus and made our way towards central Bath, to sample some local beer, wine and chips; and we all had a merry time reminiscing about our day. Eventually, fatigue kicked in and we stayed at our crash for a second and final time to gather what sleep we could before making our way back Warwickwards.
A quality weekend. Thank you to all debaters: old and new, Warwick and erm… non-Warwick, tabbers, CA’s, and organisers. The inaugural Bath Novice IV expedition was a success.