Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX students win CUSID East Novice Debate championship

November 9th, 2016
Will Fraser and Olivia Ells

StFX students Olivia Ells and Will Fraser are the winners of the annual CUSID East Novice Debate Championship held at Dalhousie University on Oct. 28-29.

It was the first time Ms. Ells, a senior anthropology student from Antigonish, NS and president of X Debate, and Mr. Fraser, also of Antigonish, NS, and in his first year at StFX in political science, competed together. It was just the second university debate competition for Mr. Fraser, who also won second place for Novice speakers at the tournament.

The duo competed against 16 teams from Dalhousie, StFX, Mount Allison and Memorial University. The tournament is comprised of five rounds with motions ranging from politics to social problems.

Both students said it was a major accomplishment to make it to the final. In the past few years, the tournament has been dominated by teams from Dalhousie, they say.  

“Our story is essentially the classic underdog story,” Ms. Ells says, as they both noted they were definitely shocked but pleased to win the tournament.

What propelled their success?

“We did more than just debate, we engaged the panel as well,” Ms. Ells said.

Mr. Fraser says good chemistry between the team members helped them be able to joke and be relaxed. “If you go into a debate relaxed, it really helps get your point across.”

Ms. Ells says attending a major debate tournament, the Hart House IV Lafayette Debate Tournament, in Toronto earlier this fall was a great learning experience where they picked up many tips.  

Being involved in debate has been beneficial, both students say.

“It’s really helped me learn how to structure arguments, which helps me with essays,” Mr. Fraser says. Knowing how to structure the essay helps present a good narrative that makes an impact.

Debate has also helped give him confidence to speak in class, he says.

“You only have 15 minutes to prepare, so it helps with thinking on my feet and in coming up with something relevant,” Ms. Ells says. “That helps with confidence and speaking in class.”


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