WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Is the western world fighting terrorism in the wrong way?
That question promises to spark a parliamentary war of words when two members of the British National Debate Team visit Whitman College on Tuesday, Nov. 18, to match wits with two of Whitman's top debaters. The 90-minute debate, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8 p.m. in Olin Hall, room 130.
Britain's Tom Hay, a recent graduate of Oxford University, and Tom Hamilton, a doctoral student at the University of Durham, are in the midst of a three-month debate tour of the United States. In Tuesday's debate, they will argue in favor of the anti-terrorism policies being pursued by U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Whitman students Chris Gorman and Chandra Carlisle, both of whom compete in parliamentary debate, will take the opposing view, arguing for changes in the way the U.S. and Britain are combating terrorism.
Gorman, a senior politics major, and Carlisle, a junior majoring in foreign languages & literatures (Spanish), have competed in a number of intercollegiate debate tournaments this fall, although they teamed with different partners. Gorman and junior Bridget Kustin, who leaves on foreign study at the semester break, opened the fall season by winning their first three tournaments.
While the topic for Tuesday's debate is serious and timely, the event should provide an entertaining glimpse of the British style of parliamentary debate, according to Whitman debate coach Jim Hanson.
"British debate tends to utilize more humor and wit than American debate, and to some degree it welcomes audience participation," Hanson says. "The British tend to be less structured and less interested in point-by-point analysis. They enjoy getting to the core issues of a topic."
As members of the British National Debate Team, Hay and Hamilton have extensive backgrounds in the oratorical arts. Hay, who graduated with a degree in politics, philosophy and economics, was named the Oxford Union's "debater of the year" in 2001. Hamilton, who is completing a Ph.D. in theology, philosophy of religion and ethics, has competed at the highest levels of debate, advancing to the finals of the world championships in 2002 and the finals of the European championships in 2003.