Perse team ready to debate hot topics at ESU Mace national finals
13 Mar 2019
Kirill Nezhentsev (Lower Sixth) and Rizwaan Baig (Year 11) are looking forward to pitting their wits in the ESU (English-Speaking Union) Mace debating competition national final after a strong performance in the Oxford Schools’ finals.
The Perse debating duo came seventh in the novice team category at the Oxford Schools’ event, which featured teams from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Canada and Hungary. They won two of their four debates at the Oxford Union with the motions ‘This house would ban those who have engaged in terrorist activities from being involved in political positions’ and ‘Should former colonial countries significantly increase their immigration quotas from former colonies?’
The Oxford Schools’ competition is particularly intense as teams have just 15 minutes to put together an argument for or against after being given the topic for debate.
Kirill said: “It’s a huge challenge as you only have a short time to prepare a case on issues that are quite complex. Other topics that came up included whether organ sales should be allowed and whether the modern feminist movement should reject the glorification of motherhood, so there’s a really wide range of subjects. You can’t guess it and prepare it in advance.
“We spend the first three minutes in silence just by ourselves writing down ideas, then we hurriedly converse and check what works and what doesn’t. We then just write down as much as we can, but much of it is improvised because of the time factor.”
Rizwaan added: “Much also depends on what the other teams have done, so it really is a lot about what you can do in the spur of the moment.”
Kirill and Rizwaan now hope to do well in the ESU Mace national finals on 25 March off the back of their Oxford Schools’ performance. Unlike the Oxford Schools’ competition, they already know the topics they will face on the day and will spend many break times and lunchtimes rehearsing their arguments ensuring they are prepared for the event.
Rizwaan said: “In the semi-finals, we’ll be opposing the motion ‘This house would enforce western multi-national corporations to implement western labour standards and protections across the whole of their supply chain’. If we win and go through to the grand final, the debate will be about whether suffragettes should receive posthumous pardons.”
Kirill said: “As with any debate, there’s always going to be a big element of improvisation. Doing high intensity debates, such as with the Oxford Schools’ competition, gives you the knack for thinking on your feet and that will hopefully come in handy at the ESU Mace finals.”