Debate team argues for repeat victory

From left, second place winners Nazia Jacques and Kiron Dunn, and first place winners Marin Hughes and Sadie Finch show off their awards. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

Sadie Finch and Marin Hughes of Cayman International School defended their title Thursday night at the eighth Conyers Dill & Pearman Interschool Debate at St. Ignatius Catholic School.

Ms. Finch, 16, and Mr. Hughes, 15, successfully argued that the Me Too Movement has not gone too far. The team listened as Nazia Jacques and Kiron Dunn, both 16-year-old St. Ignatius students, argued that the movement has created an overly paranoid atmosphere between the sexes, where the slightest comment might elicit a negative response.

“They’re calling out all these extreme cases,” Ms. Finch countered, while arguing that the movement had been beneficial in most respects. “You can’t justify the majority by using the minority. The Me Too movement is not about these extreme cases.”

Instead, she said, “It is about getting the truth out there.”

That and Mr. Hughes’s argument that just because the heightened scrutiny made men uncomfortable did not delegitimize the movement were key factors in Grand Court Justice Marlene Carter’s decision to award the team the first-place trophy. It was the team’s second win in as many debates.

Ms. Finch said she believes what makes her and Mr. Hughes a successful combination is that their personal opinions are frequently in opposition to one another. Because they are often at odds, she said, “We know how to get into the mindset of the other person.”

Ian C. Whan Tong, who cofounded the competition four years ago with fellow attorney Fraser Hughes, said learning how to think like the other side is critical in being an effective debater.

“Debating is important,” Mr. Tong said. “More than any other subject, it promotes critical thought. You have to listen to what your opponent is saying. You have to analyze it and respond.”

Justice Carter said the experience students get in facing off and arguing in a controlled forum is beneficial in many ways.

“I’m hoping they realize these skills are really life skills that they will use,” she said. For instance, she added with a laugh, “Try to persuade your husband that you need those new shoes.”

Having a solid argument is only part of the picture in a successful debate, she said.

“I always have to keep in mind the timing,” she said, referring to the set amount of minutes students have to make their cases.

In addition to staying on topic, she said, students have to back up their points with evidence. They are also judged on poise, confidence, persuasiveness and how well they work as a team.

The evening’s top individual debater was Harriet Green of Cayman Prep.

Ms. Jacques said she and Mr. Dunn had made it a goal to finish in the top three. She said she was pleased with their second place trophy.

“This is a great achievement,” she said. “We’re happy.”

Debating, she said, comes naturally for her.

“I love arguing with people,” she said. “I love when they come at me with a rebuttal and I can kind of put them in their place.”

Mr. Dunn said debating has taught him a lot, but there are limits.

“You can’t argue with Mom,” he said. “Mom’s always right.”

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