ACC Open Debating Report

Thursday 2 April was a day of triumph for the Whitefriars debating team, as a group of six Year 12 students went head-to-head with a number of other schools to compete for the ACC Open Debating championship. Optimistic after our clean-streak triple victory last year, the team made its way to St Mary’s College in St Kilda early on Thursday morning.

It was roughly halfway into this trip that we made the unfortunate discovery that the speaking time limit was in fact 5-6 minutes, two minutes shorter than what we had prepared for. This realisation was promptly followed by a frantic rush of crossing out and restructuring components of our speech, as the team was forced to strategically prioritise the key details under a new pressing time limit. Despite this unexpected challenge, the team still managed to argue a very compelling case as to ‘why we should [not] boycott sports associated with sportswashing’ (governments using sport to cover up unethical behaviour), only being bested by St Bernard’s College by a close margin of 2 points.

However, this rocky beginning had no bearing on our success for the rest of the day. Round 2 and 3 were secret topics, meaning we only learnt what we would be arguing around 30 minutes before the debate took place. This was our time to shine, drawing upon our experience and success in the DAV state finals last year to absolutely demolish our opposition with a legendary 14-point victory against Salesian on the topic ‘that political advertisements should be legally required to be truthful’. For context, even Mr Wight had never heard of a victory by greater than 6 points; to win by 14 is akin winning an AFL game by 200 points.

This triumphant spirit would carry us through round 3, where we argued ‘that we should [not] regret the rise of food delivery services’, with the Whitefriars once again scoring a breathtaking 9-point victory against Emmanuel. Despite the challenging circumstances of having to prepare our speeches on a single table in a crowded room with no access to the internet or a whiteboard, the team moved like clockwork, the many hours of practice and workshops being put to good use. The debate, and its accompanying discussion on the societal crisis of people being delivered cold margherita pizza, was an absolute pleasure to watch, with the Best Speaker position being awarded to Jonathan Clark.

While at the end of the day our initial loss cost us the 1st place prize, we still hold the moral victory of having more total points than the winning team of St Bernard’s. And to win an individual debate by 14 and 9 points is no mean feat in its own right. As always, a huge thank you to the incredible debating team who pours so much commitment into making our school truly something to behold, particularly Matthew Kosi, Josh Sarlos, Jonathan Clark, Samuel Ng and Samuel Charles Lochner, as well as a special thank you to Lukas Mallios for being willing to stay on standby. And of course, the biggest thank you goes to Mr Wight, whose unrelenting commitment and passion is what makes our thriving debating program possible.

Dathen Seneviratne

Debating Captain 2024