On Saturday May 11th, the Mackay School Debate Team competed in their first event of the year against Colegio Carampague de Talagante at the Universidad Andrés Bello English Debate at the Casona Central, Las Condes. Mackay third medio students Joaquín Oporto, Sebastián Barriga and Thomas Reynolds were the appointed speakers, while first medio students Kei Sone, Rodrigo Vallejo, Pablo Nuepert, Estefan Recio and Rodrigo Yañez took advantage of the opportunity to watch, learn and prepare for the next event. The motion was “Marches are a legitimate protest mechanism in Chile” and the Mackay School was side opposition.
A problem arose in this debate, which is a common problem in many debates, that the definition of “legitimate” was unclear. Mackay students and debate team coach Mr. Carey agreed that if legitimate meant “pertaining to the laws,” and marches are in fact legal in Chile, then there is no real substance in this debate. So instead they defined legitimate as “effective,” which in the English-speaking world would be acceptable, and then formed their argument.
In the end, neither team could really form a solid argument and back it up with examples. The judges went with side proposition on the bases that indeed “marches are legal in Chile under section 19 of the constitution.” Which raised the question of whether or not students were allowed to argue using sections of the constitution – according to the UNAB rules they cannot, since a good debate should not merely be a question of what is or is not law.
The result was a little disappointing, yet an invaluable learning experience – teaching students to analyze and understand the correct format and rules of debate. And if a problem arises, competitors should bring it into question formally and responsibly just as active citizens do in a modern day democratic society.
The Mackay team will participate in two more mandatory debates in May in the UNAB contest. If they can win enough points, they will find themselves in the play-offs in June. This Saturday May 18th they will face the Lincoln International Academy Barnechea.
Analyzing the motion and preparing the argument.
Who will be rookie of the year?
Preparing the rebuttal.
“Point of information!”
“Point of information!!”