While the Philodemic Society serves as Georgetown’s on-campus forum for weekly debates, Georgetown University’s Intercollegiate Debate Team has been making its presence known beyond Healy Gates in competitions all year.

The team of Sofia Vickery (SFS ’06) and Andy Nolan (MSB ’05) boast a record of 18 wins and one loss for the semester, placing ahead of teams from colleges such as Emory, Harvard and Northwestern.

Vickery and Nolan placed first among 40 schools at the Catholic University tournament and first among 32 schools at the University of Richmond tournament.

Jonathan Gingerich (COL ’07) and Andrew Berg (COL ’07) placed third at the Richmond tournament.

“It has been a while since we have won more than one debate tournament in a semester,” Justin Green, director of debate, said.

The main difference between the Philodemic Society and the Intercollegiate team is that the latter competes against other schools and has a set topic for the academic year.

“We tend to focus our energies on in-depth analysis,” Green said.

This year the team is debating a resolution that examines the relationship of the United States and the European Union with regard to free trade, peacekeeping in Iraq and genetically-modified food.

When a topic is chosen, each team of two is responsible for proposing a policy supporting the resolution.

Teams are randomly assigned before each debate to either support or oppose the resolution, and the affirming team must propose their own plan that the opposing team must negate.

“To effectively debate about these different issues, an immense amount of research is required by each debater. During the season I will often spend six hours a week researching a given topic of discussion,” Nolan said. “The knowledge gained from debate dwarfs anything that I’ve learned in school.”

Being a part of the debate team requires long hours and “sacrifice of free time,” Green said.

“The competitive aspect of debate promotes an intense environment of research and learning. I am motivated to read thousands of pages on seemingly boring issues in order to prepare for competition,” Vickery said.

The debaters attend two to three debates each month, competing over the weekend. At each tournament, the teams have four debates that last about two or three hours.

But the debaters find the experience well worth it.

“Not only do we gain a general knowledge about the central theme of the resolution, but debaters also gauge thousands of topics that might be tangential to the resolution, as well,” Nolan said.

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