History of the World Universities Debating Championship
The World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) is the world's largest debating tournament, and one of the largest annual international student events in the world. It is a parliamentary debating event, held using a variant of the British Parliamentary Debate format. Each year, the event is hosted by a university selected by the World Universities Debating Council. The tournament is colloquially referred to as "Worlds". The tournament started over 35 years ago and has grown both in terms of diversity and in magnitude.
This History of the World Universities Debating Championships comes in 3 parts. From 1976 to 1990 it is taken almost word for word (with the exception of a section on the 1972 Sydney claim and the 1978 World Debating Festival both by Colm Flynn) from the 1991 Toronto WUDC Tournament booklet. Who wrote it isn't known but it was provided by Randal Horobik. At the start of the section on Worlds in 1981 is an extract from an e-mail by Clark McGinn, Convenor of Debates, GU Union 1980 -81 and 1981 and Convenor of the First World Debating Competition, 1981. The history since 1991 has been compiled by Colm Flynn, Chair of Worlds Council 2002 and DCA 2003 and Steven Johnson, current Chair of Worlds Council.
Many countries share the credit for the survival and growth of world university debating over the past 15 years. North Americans remember the University of London’s hospitality in the mid-to-late 1970s. The Worlds would certainly not have been possible without the strong McGill initiative and Glaswegian involvement in the early 1980s. But it is the flashes of brilliance, moments of laughter, lightning wit, and sustained participation of debaters drawn to the competition from around the world is what makes the Worlds possible - and worth holding - today.
International parliamentary debating goes back to at least the early 20th Century, when teams from Oxford toured the United States. Later, in the 1950s, debaters were sent from England to tour in India, among other places, as well as the United States. Women took part to the extent permitted by their institutions. One woman won a place on a 1954 tour representing the Queen Margaret Union at Glasgow, only to be rejected by higher authorities for reasons of gender. While not allowed to join the Glasgow Union, women could and did participate full in the debates there. This was actually more egalitarian than hart House at the University of Toronto, which did not admit women as members until 1972. Until then, women could be accompanied to formal debates, but they had to sit in the gallery and were not allowed to speak.
Canadians and Americans have competed with each other regularly for many years. While strictly speaking these were international competition, they were not terribly exotic. However, these tournaments laid a solid foundation for later adventures into the rest of the world.
The past years of multilateral competition are rife with tales of people who spent a great deal of time cold, wet, broke, lost, tired, making great friends in the adversity and generally having the time of their lives (in retrospect). In that respect, debating is the same wherever you do it. Hosting a world tournament has sometimes been an unsought honor. More than once, the school that actually hosted the Worlds was the one that kindly offered to step in when the successful bidder’s organization fell apart.
1976 London TAUSA
International tournaments find their beginnings in the spring of 1976, when the first Trans-Atlantic University Speech Association (TAUSA) tournament was held in London, England, hosted by the University of London and organized by John Telfer. About 50 teams attended, including Oxford (who won) and possibly Cambridge. For either, let along both, to attend was unusual; normally the Oxbridge people would only compete with each other. Funds were provided by an Anglo-American committee for the celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial. Telfer himself was a university administration official of some kind, and organized the event through contacts with individuals rather than university debating societies.
1977 McGill TAUSA
In January of 1977, the second TAUSA tournament, a McGill-Loyola production, was held in Montreal. About 60 teams competed and Matt Morley and Samuel Abady (not Jonathan Kessler and Cobwesk Boski as earlier believed) from Colgate in the United States claimed the debating victory. The public speaking competition was won by Gray’s Inn, England. The TAUSA tournament replaced McGill’s Winter Carnival tournament that year, and the TAUSA winners are rumored to be engraved on the McGill Tournament trophy.
1978 London TAUSA
In April of 1978, the third and final TAUSA took place in England, hosted again by the University of London. About 70 teams attended, and the Glasgow Union took first place. Michael McCulloch and David Shulman for Victoria University placed second.
THE 1978 WORLD DEBATING FESTIVAL: The "HONEYWELL"
1978 also saw another of the forerunners to the World Debating Championships. The World Debating Festival (often called the Honeywell although this is because it was sponsored by Honeywell International) was hosted by the University of Sydney Union. The competition was held in Australian style (teams of 3, two teams in a debate) and featured a team each from Glasgow (Sco), Cambridge (UK), Oxford (UK), Columbia (US), Harvard (US), Oregon (US), Adelaide (Aus), Melbourne (Aus), Monash (Aus), Sydney (Aus), Western Australia (Aus), Auckland (NZ), Canterbury (NZ). The University of Sydney (Adams, ?, ?) won the competition beating Oxford (O'Shaughnessy, Harrison & Sterling) in the final. A mini tour was then provided for teams who had traveled to Australia with additional debates taking place in Newcastle and Western Australia. The trophy for the competition was stolen immediately after the final and never recovered. On 6th January 2000 an article in the "University of Sydney News" claimed that the World Debating Championships were first held by Sydney in 1972. There is no further information about this 1972 competition although it may be possible that they are confused about the World Debating Festival and the year in which it was held.
THE YEARS BETWEEN TAUSA AND WUDC
From the 1991 WUDC tournament booklet
With some addition by Colm Flynn
In the TAUSA years, there was no formal world debating organization; the schools attending one year just voted on where the tournament would be held the following year. Often the coordination was left to individuals in each country. For example the US contact was Larry Frank of St Lawrence College. However with no budget for
TAUSA most of the limited number of debating societies in US colleges didn't even know TAUSA existed. Dispite this Chicago was selected in 1978 as the site for the fourth TAUSA, set for April of 1979, in place of the University of Chicago’s usual April tournament. April of 1979 came and went. The Chicago TAUSA had been postponed several times for a number of reasons, including conflict with a Papal visit to
Chicago. By the fall of 1979, it was clear that formal world debating competition had missed a year. But the transatlantic spirit had taken hold. Undaunted by the collapse of the Chicago event, McGill invited a few UK schools to its Winter Carnival tournament. The Scots came over in February of 1980 for the McGill tournament;
Glasgow was the only UK school to attend.
The Glaswegians toured North American in one or more of the fall of 1979; the spring of 1980; the fall of 1980 stopping variously at Dalhousie and McGill, and possibly Ottawa and Toronto. In the wake of the collapse of the Chicago organization, they expressed interest in an international tournament to replace TAUSA, whether in Glasgow or North America, for the following year. While touring a number of schools in 1980 and possibly late 1979, the Glaswegians discovered a great deal of enthusiasm for the idea of a world tournament in Glasgow the following year, and collected much valuable and profitable intelligence of which they were to make use in the near future. In a letter dated 22 October 1980, Clark McGinn formally extended invitations to “the first ever World Competition Debate to be held in Glasgow University Union.” The World Debating Championships were underway.
The TAUSA (and the similar Honeywell) were ad hoc competitions - TAUSA had no Australian/NZ (or Irish??) teams involved while Honeywell had no Irish or Canadian. Both were invitation competitions whereas the First Worlds set out to be (a) more open and (b) cover all of the world (or at least, initially, both North Americans, both ANZ and all four British Isles and the Caribbean). There are more details in the Minute Books of the GUU debates committee.
Ironically, the first idea for Worlds had been a TAUSA-like competition with the top 3 teams from each region who would have arisen out of local competitions and then 'Mace-like' be flown-to the Union to have the final rounds - but in 1981 in a UK recession, there was no sponsorship at all - so they made the competition into an open tournament. Thankfully!
THE WORLD UNIVERSITIES DEBATING CHAMPIONSHIP
The first Worlds was hosted in Scotland in January, 1981 by the Glasgow Union and organized by Clark McGinn. 43 teams competed from 7 nations. Registration was £10 but teams from outside the British Isles paid no registration as they were at a financial disadvantage for traveling so far. In exchange for this fee there was a promise of "a bed for every competitor". There were four days of debating with a day off in the middle to visit Edinburgh, and then the finals. Steve Coughlan and Andrew Taylor took home the first place honors for the University of Toronto, defeating John Rankin and Marcel Mongeon of McGill. Andrew Taylor also took home the best speaker award. It was a strong year for Canada; three of the top four teams were Canadian. Not many English schools attended; they thought Glasgow was too far from home. It was Scotland. It was winter. It was raining. The Canadians couldn’t believe how warm it was. The Americans couldn’t believe how cold it was. While reports from the championship are rare the history of APDA reports "the creation and infrastructure of that tournament took on soap-operatic dimensions". One indirect result of the championships was the foundation of APDA itself. As 4 US debaters (Princeton's David Martland & Richard Sommer and Amherst's David Bailin & J. J. Gertler) toured Scotland after the championships plans for APDA were drawn up in the back of a Ford Cortina.
Hart House Toronto 1982
The University of British Columbia won the bid for the 1982 tournament. A letter sent out by Joe Pollender in the fall of 1981, however, cites a 42-day Canadian postal strike as the cause for a change in the program. The second Worlds was moved to the University of Toronto and organized by the defending champions, Steve Coughlan and Andrew Taylor, when the UBC effort fell apart. About 40 teams competed, with first place going to Stuart Bugg and David Kidd of the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Stuart Bugg was the best speaker. The dinner hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society at Casa Loma was a high point of the tournament. In return for such wonderful hospitality, a debate featuring one competitor from each of the six countries represented was presented as after dinner entertainment. Debaters included Andrew Taylor, representing Canada; J.J. Gertler for the United States; Anthony Fisher of Australia; David Kidd from New Zealand and Clark McGinn, the Scot. The best line was from Anthony Fisher: “the Queen is the only person in the world without an accent.” The Royal Commonwealth Society was pleased.
That year, an idea arose that one year’s winners should become the following year’s hosts, as this system had worked so well for the second Worlds. Auckland was duly selected as the site for the 1983 Worlds.
Princeton took up the torch when the University of Auckland failed to organize a tournament. There had been a great deal of talk of subsidized airfare to New Zealand, but this all suddenly went quiet. Frank McKiergan and John Nicholson of Glasgow Dialectic met and defeated a University of Toronto team of Jeff Nankivell and Francis Daniels. John Geisnell is recorded as the best speaker but his University is not known. For better or worse, the World Debates council was formed at this tournament. The general idea was to get a bit more organized, and possibly prevent world tournaments from evaporating completely. Prior to that, issues such as the next tournament location and haggling over who should get to go had been decided by a general meeting of all teams present. Given the track record on bidding and hosting the tournament, a World Council probably couldn’t hurt.
The 1984 Worlds was hosted by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Sixty-four teams competed, and the University of Sydney beat Oxford to bring the first place honors to Australia. A number of people went to Glasgow afterwards to film “Mr. Speaker, Sir!” for the BBC. Willie Hamilton was on one side; Nicholas Tolstoi on the other, on a resolution abolishing the monarchy.
McGill (Montreal) 1985
In 1985, the Worlds returned to Canada. Hosted by McGill University in Montreal, it was run by Scott Keating, Melanie Garret and Elizabeth Jarvis. A total of 120 teams took part, in the grand McGill tradition of tournament on a grand scale. The final round was held in Redpath Hall. Judges included Francis Fox, former Solicitor General. Marcel Mongeon and Trish Dodge hosted a reception for the overseas debaters, at which guests met former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau was in a bit of a rush, however, and had to leave early to take his kids to karate class. That year, Sean Murphy and Damian Crawford took home a richly deserved first place for King’s Inn, Dublin.
Fordham (New York) 1986
In 1986, Fordham University in New York hosted the Worlds. Over 100 teams attended, including competitors from Sweden, and Jesuit University in the Philippines. University College Cork (Brian Hassett & Siobhain Lankford), won the competition for Ireland making it 2 in a row for the Irish. The format of the competition saw 14 preliminary round debates between teams of 2 and two teams per debate. The final motion was on censorship of the press.
UC Dublin 1987
In 1987, University College, Dublin hosted the worlds in Ireland. It must have felt like the world showed up, too. The local newspaper reported that 220 teams were there. Even if that turned out to be 220 people, it was a sizeable invasion. Glasgow (Kevin Sneader & Austin Lally) were the World champion that year. New Year’s Eve was a study in contrasts as the debaters who gathered in evening attire for a cold buffet in the Lord Mayor’s Hall found themselves ringing in the new year next door to a heavy metal rock concert, complete with “a bunch of guys in leather jackets and girls in red lipstick cracking gum.” The importance of understanding local customs was amply demonstrated to all who had not found out ahead of time that Dublin offers no public transportation on new Year’s Eve. The evening ended with what is variously described as a rainy two, three or four mile walk in formal wear.
The Worlds in Sydney in 1988 had 90 teams. Oxford brought the first place trophy home to England, while Francis Greenslade (Adelaide) was best speaker. Competition and judging conventions differed from one Worlds to the next, and part of the idea is to do things according to the customs of the host school. Some competitors, used to making frivolous definitions, were disconcerted with a certain Australian rule aimed at banning such frivolity. If a resolution lent itself to economics, for example, you had to debate economics. This led to at least on unfortunately literal debate about whether it really was better to live on your knees than die on your feet.
Princeton hosted the 1989 Worlds. Aaron Blumenfeld and company ran the event, which was won by the previous year’s hosts, Sydney, Andrew Bell and Warren Lee. Second place was won by Justin MacGregor and Dave Conklin of the University of Toronto. About 110 teams attended. That year saw a marked increase in international participation. Singapore and Greece attended; the Soviet Union sent observers and competed the next year at Glasgow. There were a lot of prizes, including, for the first time, recognition for debaters for whom English was a second language. The format was 10 preliminary rounds with teams of two and two teams per debate. “This tournament will run on time,” debaters were told at every meeting, long after they were tired of hearing it, but it worked. While not all Worlds have featured a prepared topic, at Princeton it was “Socialism has failed.” One may recall that 1989 was quite a year for socialism...but this was only January. How could they have known? There were divisions for both comic and serious public speeches, but the idea of having to stand up and know that you were expected to be funny was more than many cared to deal with. The competition offered a number of unusual ideas, including object speaking; a debater was handed an object, and then had to build a speech around the object.
Glasgow played host to the Worlds for the second time in 1990. Yale University (Matt Wolf & John Wertheim) took home the first American victory in the history of the tournament, over a field of about 165 teams. Hong Kong was represented, and the American Academy in Athens, Greece returned. A Polish team was there, too.
The previous summer, a group of 10 people had toured Eastern Europe to teach debating. One of the Soviet teams the group had met on the tour came to the Worlds that year. Princess Anne was the honored guest at a reception for the Debating Union Presidents before the final round. She presented the award to the winning team from Yale, who were the victors in the finals against three Australian teams.
WORLDS SINCE 1991
Hart House (Toronto) 1991
The 1991 championships were hosted by Toronto for the second time. These championships were held under the North American style of debating which involved just 2 teams in each debate and Double Octo-finals. The eventual winners were McGill (Chris Wayland & Mona Gupta) defeating Dalhousie (Stephen Pitel & John Haffner) in the final. Stephen Pitel would go on to debate for and coach Cambridge and pioneer the case book approach which would come to dominate teams tactics at Worlds. Steve Bibas (Oxford) was the top ranked speaker.
Trinity College Dublin 1992
Worlds in 1992 were hosted by Trinity College Dublin. Here around 150 teams competed. The final was competed by 3 Australian teams ANU (who broke 1st), Sydney A (Who broke 2nd) and Sydney B (who broke 11th). The Fourth team was Glasgow (Robin Marshall & Gordon Peterson) won the final and the championships. The competition was not a total disappointment for Australia as the top speaker award was shared by James Hooke (NSW) & Richard Douglas (ANU). The winning Glasgow team was not actually included in the initial break as the tab system failed early on and manual calculations were used which later turned out to be flawed. Following complaints by other colleges (not Glasgow who by their own admission were in bed with a serious hangover) Edinburgh were dropped from 32nd position and Glasgow were added in and had to be woken from their beds to debate in the octo finals.
Worlds in 1993 was hosted by Oxford. The convenor was Matthew Christmas (an apt name considering the time of year). He headed a committee which spanned 2 pages of it's booklet, a sign of things to come with the ever increasing complexity of running Worlds. The prizes were designed to remind the winners of Oxford and so Rowing Oars (from the famous "Boat Race") were chosen. How exactly these were brought home by the eventual winners, Harvard (David Friedman & David Kennedy) is not remembered. Daniel Mulino (ANU) was best speaker. Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath addressed the championship dinner during which the Irish and Scots discovered that the bread rolls while unpalatable made fantastic weapons in a food fight. Worlds council had to select a new host for the 1994 championships after Sydney, who had been awarded the championships in Trinity had to pull out. They came with another college prepared to host (Melbourne). This caused some resentment on the Council and a rival bid was quickly presented by another college (don't remember which one). Rumor has it this bid was presented on the back of a napkin and was voted down in favor of Melbourne.
Melbourne hosted the 1994 championships after the University of Sydney found themselves unable to host having won the bid in Trinity. After 5 years of cold wet championships this must have been a nice change for the teams in particular Glasgow (Manus Blessing & Duncan Hamilton) who won the competition. Ben Richards (Monash) was the top speaker. The growth of the international aspect of the championships were seen here with teams from France, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and Zimbabwe.
Princeton hosted once again in 1995. While the overall winners were University of New South Wales B (James Hooke & Jeremy Phillips) who defeated Oxford A (Rufus Black & Rod Clayton) in the final the competition is perhaps most noteworthy for a significant break through by the English as a Second Language contingent. Chitra Jenardhanan from Nanyang in Singapore became the first ESL speaker to win the Best Speaker award in the competition. At Princeton council meeting two colleges bid to host in 1997. Stellenbosch and Deree. After presentations and questions Stellenbosch was selected as the host by a vote of 13-6-1. Australia also proposed standardization of format to British Parliamentary after a heated discussion between Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore and Germany in favor of standardization and United States and Canada against a motion was passed to delay consideration of the issue until the following year. Princeton also had serious problems with judge numbers. Most colleges failed to send a judge and the 2 team per debate required twice as many judges as normal. In the preliminary rounds many rooms had only one judge. As a result the N-1 rule was mooted for future championships thus ensuring that sufficient judges would be available but it would not be until Stellenbosch 97 that council would vote to enforce this guideline. There were also reports of financial irregularities and a decision of Worlds Council to ban Princeton. No records of this exists but it is worth mentioning as it is often cited as being a ban on all future teams from Princeton and a ban on any future American hosts for worlds. Council has no such ban in place but this rumor is often quoted as an example of the anti American bias of the council.
UC Cork 1996
Cork hosted the championships in 1996. Macquarie (Fenja Berglund and Ben Way) won the competition with Adam Spencer (Sydney) as best speaker. The final was held in Cork City hall and highlights were televised by the Irish National broadcaster RTE. There were a number of problems at this championships which combined to give a bad perception of the championships as a whole. The tab system was missing several results or had results entered incorrectly resulting in a Princeton team losing out on a break position. Official results were never released although a team tab was circulated in the US and, in the absence of any is now taken as the Cork Tab. The tab also could not guarantee a 3,2,2,2 for positions with all teams. Council requested that position allocation be made crucial in future championships. This caused serious problems with future tab systems generating large brackets of 3 or 4 points in rounds 4 and 8 combined with a popular move back to pure power pairing instead of brackets to protect the top teams, for future championships.
Finally while most championships with debate problems could rely on successful social events to offset the ill feeling Cork’s social events were seen as poor. A “Pizza night” was reduced to farce when the pizza company could only deliver ~12 pizzas every 30 minutes to a room full of 1000 debaters. The resulting ugly scene of dozens of people fighting for one pizza was captured by local media and featured on the front page of the next day’s local newspaper with the headline “Talk your way out of this one”. A comedy night featuring a wet tee-shirt competition also did not go down well.
The Championships were also note worthy for two decisions by Worlds Council. Firstly the creation of the Deputy Chief Adjudicator position to make sure that the interests of debaters outside the host nation was represented on the organizing committee. Secondly this council voted on the Australian motion from the previous year to standardize to the British Parliamentary style rather than allow the host to decide the style. As in Princeton this was an extremely contentious decision and at one stage featured a walk out by delegates who were either opposed to standardization or favored another style. The motion was passed and for better or worse this paved the way to the creation of Worlds Rules as we know them.
In 1997 the Championships were hosted in Africa for the first time by the University of Stellenbosch. In fact this was the first time a host nation came from outside the original 7 nations (called the “Charter” nations). After the problems with the previous two charter nation worlds (Princeton & Cork) this gamble by Worlds Council paid handsome as Stellenbosch 97 is widely regarded as the benchmark Worlds setting new standards against which all future Worlds would be measured. This was in spite of a campaign by some American debaters to boycott the championships as they were being held in the birthplace of apartheid and an outbreak of Ebola in Africa which had the World's media in overdrive. The competition ran smoothly and the social events in warm African summer were very successful following two cold climate worlds. This was also the first championships to have Deputy Chief Adjudicators to provide external expertise to the organiaing committee: Ray D'Cruz and John Long being the first to fill the role.
Stellenbosch also struggled with the number of judges. As a result the council finally voted to enforce the N-1 rule for all future championships. Council at Stellenbosch voted to introduce verbal adjudications after the first 6 preliminary rounds. The ESL Final was contested by 2 teams from Singapore, one from the Philippines and one from Greece and NU Singapore emerged with the win. The main competition was won by Glasgow A (Andy Hume and Derek Sloan) who were faced with the task of taking a large trophy in the shape of an Elephant home. It had to be carried into the final by 4 men. Andy George was best speaker.
Deree (Athens) 1998
1998 saw a mainland Europe country host for the first time. Deree College Athens hosted the championships billing itself as “Debating coming home”. Grays Inns A (Neil Sheldon and Andy George) won the competition with Neill Sheldon also taking the top speaker award. The championships were also saw the change in voting rights on council which loosened the grip of the “Charter” nations and rewarded countries who sent the most teams. The council also voted to set up a World Debating Committee to work on issues between championships.
There were problems with delays and judges continually judging at the same level (i.e. the top 3 judges would be in the top room and the bottom 3 ranked judges always judged the bottom room). This lead to frustration among the judges seeing a steady stream of weak teams (and frustrated teams seeing a constant stream of weak judges), culminating in a large no show from bottom ranked judges at a delayed round 9. As a result of this the concepts of top ranked “chair” judges in every room and rotating judges around the tab became common. Athens had ESL semi finals for the first time to allow the top 8 ESL teams break. Athens were the first championships to publish results during the competition. While this did not meet the requirements of Council in Stellenbosch (for which Athens were criticised) it was the first time teams had a clear picture of how they were performing at the end of each day. For many debaters Athens is best remembered for Mike's bar. A bar located in between the two championship hotels. The fact that the official social events did not meet with widespread approval helped Mike claim he could put his children through college from the profits of that week.
Ateneo Manila 1999
1999 saw the trend of first time host continents with the first Asian host, Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines. There was advance discussion on some American/IONA lists as to the safety of the Philippines and then the Asian Economy collapsed creating a financial headache for organisers and participants alike. During the championships some small problems initially occurred with registration and the tab system which were fixed by the adjudication team. After that the championships are seen as a tremendous success, possibly the most successful.
This first Asian Championships saw a large number of non-Charter Nations break. Philippines broke 3 teams (one to the Qtr-Finals), South Africa 2 (Witwatersrand reached the Semi-Finals) Singapore and Pakistan (Qtr-finals) broke 1 team each. Monash A (Meg
O’Sullivan and Andrew Phillips) won the competition while Andy Kidd (Oxford) was best speaker. The Grand final was televised live in the Philippines and opened by President Joseph Estrada. Manila also saw as new competition "The World Masters". This was a competition open to adjudicators and observers and run on a national basis rather than by college. Ireland were the first winners. At council Israel objected to the ESL competition rules. They felt that some of the teams in the ESL competition were not genuine ESL and that dropping the ESL semis (which Manila had done) was unfair to genuine ESL teams (their third motion requesting printed material be banned was heavily defeated). After a long discussion these first two ESL issues were left to the following year.
University of Sydney hosted the championships in 2000. The championships were delayed by around a week so that participants could celebrate the Millennium at home with their families. This meant that a few hardy souls risked the Millennium Bug and were able to get cheap flights on near empty flights departing on New Year’s day. This was seen as a championship that again raised the bar in terms of standards expected of the host. An opening night harbor cruise around the most beautiful natural harbor left people wondering how the host committee could keep this up for the week. They did. A popular Sydney initiative was an effort to help everyone, not just those who drank, to enjoy the social events. In this regard all soft drinks were available at a substantially reduced price. This was also a championship of records as Monash University became the first college to successfully defend the title, this time through Kim Little and Cathy Roussow. Andy Kidd (Oxford) also became the first speaker on record to top the speaker tab two years in a row. At council the concerns of the ESL competition carried over from the previous year were dealt with. The ESL honour system was replaced by a "barrier test" and teams breaking in the main competition would be excluded from the ESL competition. After the competition things started to go a little wrong, the Tab system had a major bug. When they tried to export the results to publish them the system wiped all the data. While they were able to publish the team tab only the top 80 speakers could be recovered.
The 2001 championships returned to Glasgow for it’s 21st birthday. After 4 years of warm (or at least very mild) climates hosting the championship the participants were greeted with the heaviest snow fall in living memory at Glasgow. Round 9 had to be cancelled after large numbers of teams were struck down with some form of illness by the pleasant name "Winter Vomiting Bug". However as the round one motion was announced at the wrong time in the adjudication briefing and another had to be used we still got 9 motions if not 9 debates. On top of this the tab system which was based on a "fixed" version of the Sydney tab turned out to be even worse than the Sydney version. At least one team were excluded from the break (Cambridge) and it took several months before the results were finally published. In addition there were several complaints that the social events revolved completely around the consumption of large amounts of alcohol. Despite all this Sydney (Greg O'Mahony and Paul Hunyor) came through to win and Paul Hunyor also took home the best speaker award. A prize of a large "Brave heart" style sword for the winning team must have made for an interesting conversation at customs.
Hart House (Toronto) 2002
Toronto hosted the championships in 2002 and once again the participants prepared for vast quantities of snow. Record levels of snow fell 40Km south of Toronto and 40km North of Toronto but not a flake was spotted in Toronto during the championships. Ewan Smith topped the speaker tab for Oxford. Perhaps fittingly considering the Tragic events of just 3 months before (and ironically considering they held a rival "international" competition of 12 months before in which only US teams were permitted to debate), New York University Law (Rob Weekes and Alan Merson) won the championships for the United states, the first time since 1993 that an American team won. Ewan Smith (oxford) was the top ranked speaker. The motions at these championships were considered insensitive by many debaters as they covered topics such as Sept 11, Rape, and Anorexia. Many debaters will remember the championships for the 5 star hotel the Royal York in particular the roaming groups security guards trying, unsuccessfully, to prevent room parties.
Others will remember the championships for a scandal which finished off the Welsh (if you don't know what that means you are better off). Worlds Council saw three nations bidding to host 2004 Croatia, Malaysia, Singapore. This selection process was marred by controversy over the voting allegiances. The Malaysian Government did not recognize the state of Israel and in spite of written assurances that Israeli teams would have no problem gaining entry Israeli delegates actively organized a blocking group against Malaysia. After considerable political maneuvering and pressure during the council meeting (which had to be stopped during the Croatian presentation in order to regain order around the table) this group of nations voted for Singapore ahead of Malaysia even though a number of the countries had promised their votes to either Malaysia or Croatia. The fact that the decision was made on political and not debating issues left a bitter after effect that continued for several months on mailing lists.
The 2003 championships were hosted once again by Stellenbosch in South Africa. This championships did not run as smoothly as the first Stellenbosch Worlds. Quickly during the competition it became obvious that problems existed with the tab system which had been tested but with pre-prepared data which clearly didn't mimic live conditions. A series of small errors in the design or manual use of the tab system caused serious delays on Day 1 (finished at 11pm) and Day 2 (round 6 was moved to the next day). Another all night session by the tab and adjudication teams saw a marked improvement in the running of the competition on day 3. Four rounds were held in quick succession up to round 9 when after loading in the key adjudication panels, carefully prepared by the adjudication team, the panels were accidently randomised due to a manual error while exporting to the display system. This resulted in some quick reworking of the panels in particular to avoid conflicts of interest which had not been eliminated by the system due to the late randomisation. However after all that the break was announced on time on New Years night. The rest of the competition ran smoothly and throughout the Championship the social events were generally considered outstanding helping to keep many people happy and win back some of those who had been annoyed with the earlier parts of the competition. Also helping to make up for all the earlier problems Cambridge B (Jack Anderson & Caleb Ward) won probably the best and tightest final in worlds history. They won on a split 5-2 decision just ahead of Melbourne A (Perry Herzfeld & Sarah Kennedy). Monash B and Cambridge A were also in the final.
NTU (Singapore) 2004
In 2004 saw the championships hosted by Nanyang University in Singapore who defeated Malaysia and Croatia for the right to host. Before the competition Singapore faced several difficulties. Their Chief Adjudicator Amanda Keamass resigned to take up a new job offer. The replacement Ravi Visnawathan was a relative unknown and this caused some concern when he initially announced that he would speak in Stellenbosch and not adjudicate. This would have meant he had no adjudication experience at Worlds prior to being Chief Adjudicator. However he did adjudicate break rounds in Stellenbosch and their bid was ratified at council in Toronto. After that in early 2003 concerns were raised about the SARS virus sweeping through Asia but in reality it was not a serious threat to the championships. After all this the Championships themselves were a great success. The Middle Temple team of Alex Deane & Jermery Brier defeated Sydney, Singapore Institute of Management and Inner Temple in the final.
Worlds Council however did not run as smoothly. Council refused to ratify Zagreb as hosts for 2005. Concerns were raised about the adjudication and financial aspects of the bid. 24 hours later Zagreb returned with a modified proposal but again this was rejected by Council. At this stage the bidding was reopened for 2005 and MMU Malaysia bid unopposed. After all that UC Dublin won the right to host in 2006 again unopposed.
MMU (Kuala Lampur) 2005
In 2005 the championships were hosted by Multimedia University in Malaysia. Even though they had just a year to organise the competition the championships were generally seen as a success. This was a good championships for Canada as Ottawa A (Erik Eastaugh & Jamie Furniss) won defeating Cambridge A (Daragh Grant & Joe Devanney), Oxford. D (Alex Just & Jonathan Bailey) and Hart House B (Michael Kotrly & Joanna Nairn) in the final. Worlds council awarded the University of British Columbia the right to host Worlds in 2007. Sydney University were unsuccessful bidders and the Dublin Bid was ratified smoothly.
2006 University College Dublin
The championships were won by Michael Kotrly and Joanna Nairn representing Hart House, University of Toronto, defeating the University of Chicago (represented by Daragh Grant and Patrick Emerson), Yale University (David Denton and Josh Bone), and the Inner Temple, (Greg Ó Ceallaigh and Charlie Sparling) in the Grand Final. This was "UofT"'s first win since the first Worlds in 1981 and the second successive Canadian win.
Beth O'Connor and Rory Gillis of Yale shared the best speaker award, capping the best North American performance at the championships in over a decade. 323 teams were listed on the team results (together with a "swing" team which evened it to a required multiple of four), making Dublin 2006 the largest Worlds ever. Lars Duursma and Sharon Kroes from Erasmus University won the ESL competition with Anat Gelber from Haifa University winning ESL best speaker. This was also the first year that a team from France competed in the tournament. O'Neill Simpson from the University of the West Indies - Cave Hill (Barbados) won the Public Speaking tournament.
Colm Flynn from University of Limerick was awarded the newly created Order of Distinction by the World Universities Debating Council. While the championships were seen to have raised the bar again for future hosts in terms of the level of professionalism in their organization, there were a number of concerns over delegates' health as cases of suspected meningitis and confirmed flu were reported after the break was announced. Assumption University of Thailand bid to host the championship in 2008 and stood unopposed.
2007 University of British Columbia
The championships were won by Julia Bowes and Anna Garsia of the University of Sydney Union, only the second all-female champion team. They defeated Cambridge C (Ranald Clouston and Bob Nimmo), Oxford D (James Dray and Will Jones), and the University of Queensland A (Evan Goldman and Erin O'Brien). Jessica Prince from Oxford E was the best speaker on the tab. Suhaib Hassan and Tasneem Elias from International Islamic University Malaysia won the ESL competition with Suhaib Hassan from the same team winning best speaker. The public speaking champion was Michael Imeson from Seattle University. University College Cork and the University of Botswana bid to host the 2009 tournament, with Cork being chosen.
2008 Assumption University
Oxford A (Samir Deger-Sen and Lewis Iwu) won the championships, defeating Cambridge B (Mhairi Murdoch and Daniel Warents), Monash A (Tim Jeffrie and Fiona Prowse) and Sydney A (Christopher Croke and Dominic Thurbon) in the final. Oxford A set a new record during the preliminary rounds of the tournament by collecting 25 of a possible 27 points. Sam Block of Cambridge A was the best speaker on the tab. The University of Amsterdam B (Reinier de Adelhart Toorop and Anne Valkering) won the English-as-a-Second-Language competition, and Keio University A (Yui Miyaich and Yoko Sako) won the English-as-a-Foreign-Language competition. Jason Joseph Rogers from the University of Toronto Hart House won the Public Speaking tournament. James Dray and Will Jones of the Oxford Union Society won the Masters competition (which they entered as Team Guinea-Bissau).
Of note was a controversial motion during the preliminary rounds of the tournament which advocated the assassination of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. Koc University won the right to host the 2010 tournament, defeating the University of Botswana and Nanyang Technological University. Ian Lising stood down as Chair of the World Council after many years of service. Neill Harvey-Smith took his place in the Chair, and presented Lising with an award to mark his investiture in the World Council Order of Distinction. Omar Salahuddin and Ray D'Cruz were also awarded this honor.
2009 University College Cork
The 2009 World Universities Debating Championship was jointly hosted by the UCC Law and Philosophical Societies. The Oxford University A team of James Dray and Will Jones won the championships. In doing so, they became the first partnership to simultaneously hold the World and European Universities debating titles, while Oxford became only the second institution to win back-to-back world championships (after Monash in 1999-2000). Dray and Jones have previously won the Masters title at the Championships in 2008 and been Grand Finalists in 2007. The other finalists were Harvard A (Lewis Bollard and Cormac Early), Monash B (Ravi Dutta and Victor Finkel), and Oxford C (Jonathan Leader Maynard and Alex Worsnip). Babeş-Bolyai University won the English-as-a-Second-Language competition, and Vilnius University won the English-as-a-Foreign-Language competition. Naomi Oreb of Sydney topped the overall speaker tab, Leela Koenig of Leiden University topped the ESL tab, and Aiste Dumbryte from Vilnius topped the EFL tab. Patrick Bateman of Sydney claimed the Public Speaking title. In the Masters competition, Ross McGuire and Gregg O'Neill from Ireland claimed the team title while Irishman Barry Glynn took the individual title. Willard Foxton of Middle Temple won the stand-up comedy competition for the second time, becoming the first person to do so. The University of Botswana were named as hosts for the 2011 championships after two unsuccessful bids to win the right to host in the previous two years.
2010 Koç University
The tournament was hosted by Koç University, however the event was not held at the university's campus in Istanbul, but instead at the Maritim Pine Beach Club hotel and convention center in Antalya. The final marked the first time that the top four teams from the preliminary rounds all reached the final, with Sydney University (Chris Croke and Steve Hind) emerging as champions, defeating Harvard University (Adam Chilton and Cormac Early), the London School of Economics (Rushabh Ranavat and Art Ward), and Oxford University (Jonathan Leader Maynard and Shengwu Li). Tel Aviv University (Yoni Cohen-Idov and Uri Merhav) won the English-as-a-Second-Language competition, and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Mikhail Sazonov and Maria Savostyanova) won the English-as-a-Foreign-Language competition. Shengwu Li from Oxford University was ranked the top individual speaker, with Manos Moschopoulos from the University of Athens being ranked the top ESL speaker, and Filip Dobranic from the University of Ljubljana topping the EFL speaker rankings. The public speaking competition was won by Riva Gold of McGill University, with Josh Taylor from Griffith University winning the stand-up comedy competition.
The final of the World Masters debating competition proved to a particular source of controversy, with several of the speakers making jokes which some members of the audience found to be offensive, leading to a number of complaints. The tournament's equity committee upheld one official complaint, thus disqualifying one of the speakers and his team. At the conclusion of the tournament, due to a miscommunication between the adjudication team and the equity committee regarding which teams had been disqualified, it was mistakenly announced that the Masters competition had been won by Canada, however it was later clarified that the Masters champions were in fact "Team Vanuatu" (Derek Lande and Jason Rogers). De La Salle University and Toronto University bid to host the 2012 tournament, with De La Salle being selected.
2011 University of Botswana
After three years of attempting to win the right to bring the World Championships to southern Africa, the University of Botswana welcomed the competition in December of 2010. The tournament was generally a success, though not without significant concerns about the management of the non-competitive dimensions of the event.
Monash University (Victor Finkel & Fiona Prowse) took top honors in the Main Grand Final, defending the motion “This House would invade Zimbabwe” from the Opening Government position. Other finalists included Oxford A (Ben Woolgar & Hugh Burns), Sydney A (Tim Mooney & Bronwyn Cowell), and LSE A (Anser Aftab & John Ashbourne). Ben Woolgar was Top Speaker in the Main competition. Haifa A (Michael Shapira & Meir Yarom) were the top ESL team, with Filip Dobranic (Ljublijana) taking honors as the top ESL speaker. Tokyo won the EFL division, with Andreas Lazar (Stuttgart) being named top EFL speaker.
The logistics of the competition were the subject of much dissatisfaction among participants, with social events run in generally unsafe venues open to the public and with limited security to address legitimate concerns. Dining options were very limited and at times inadequate, leading to the absence of options for individuals with restricted diets and a subsequent delay in the events of the final day of the preliminary rounds. The break announcement missed the traditional 12:00 midnight announcement time due to this delay, and participants had to wait until 2:30 am to hear the results of the competition. Finally, Council dealt with concerns over the management of finances for the event, with the organizers being unable to account for their expenditures in a credible way. This carried over to the subsequent meeting of Council, at which Botswana presented a report of their finances that Council, for the first time, refused to accept. Council also spent a great deal of time dealing with issues of registration reform and break reform; several proposals on the latter issue were considered, but though Council voted in general to support expansion of the break, no one option could gain the necessary support to pass and the issue was tabled until the next Council meeting.
2012 De La Salle University (Manila, the Philippines)
Returning to Asia, the De La Salle Worlds rivaled Assumption for the largest Worlds ever hosted. With nearly 400 teams on the tab, representing 195 universities from 45 countries, this tournament proved that the WUDC is a marquee international event. The team at DLSU did an outstanding job of welcoming visitors to Manila, providing someof the best pre-Worlds communication and updating that had yet been seen. All of this only proved to heighten the community’s anticipation of the visit to Manila, and few were disappointed (save those who spent a good deal of time waiting for elevators in the tournament hotel).
Monash University (Kiran Iyer and Amit Golder) took top honors in the Grand Final, repeating their back-to-back wins from ’99 and ’00. This impressive feat was made even more impressive by the fact that with this showing in finals Monash now had a record of 7 finalists and four Champions in the last 14 years. Other finalists from the main competition were Stanford A (Michael Baer & Faris Mohiuddin), Oxford B (Steph Bell & Jen Coyne), and Sydney B (Daniel Swaine & Eleanor Jones). Ben Woolgar (Oxford) was recognized as the best speaker in the main event at the tournament. Tel Aviv (Omer Nevo & Sella Nevo) won the ESL competition, with Omer taking honors as the top ESL Speaker. EWHA Debate Society (Yonbom Chung & YoungCho Lee) were the top EFL team and Goran Jankuloski (Belgrade A) was the top speaker in that category.
Council ran well under the leadership of Jens Fischer. The main (and most controversial) issue considered was the reform of the break, a topic that had been discussed at length in the previous year’s Council. In a narrow vote, the Council decided that for future Worlds, all teams who had earned a record of 18 or more points would be advanced to the break, setting up the likelihood of a partial-double octofinal round in which the top teams would receive a bye while lower teams would fight for the remaining spots in the Octofinal round. No bidder emerged for the 2014 World Championships, though two groups did indicate an interest in bidding. Council decided to delay consideration of bids for two months to give prospective bidders time to assemble a bid package.