Students and debating society members, Sophie and Edmund, represented New College at the annual Frankly Speaking Debate Competition. The event is organised by Benjamin Franklin House, in collaboration with the US Embassy London. Together, Sophie and Edmund took home the title of best team and Sophie went on to win best individual. As her prize, Sophie won a fully-funded place at the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute at Perdue University in Indiana.
Sophie said: "A lot of preparation and hard work was put in beforehand, so I was really excited to have won best individual - it's such a great opportunity!"
Both students had to speak for 7 minutes on each of the topics and the judges were particularly impressed by their thorough research, precise timing and logical arguments. Despite some tough competition, the team won all of their debates in the morning, progressing to the semi-finals and then to the final.
Speaking of their team win, Edmund said: "I'm used to debating in a larger team, so having just the two of us was a lot of pressure, but It was such a fun experience. There was such a diverse range of groups there debating, which made it really interesting - going home with the title of best team was a great feeling."
In the afternoon, all competitors travelled across London to the US Embassy for the final debates. The students had just half an hour to research and prepare arguments for a debate on the use of GM crops. In the final, not only did they have to speak for 7 minutes each, but had to face a tough array of questions from the audience, as well as a 4 minute summary speech, which was delivered by Sophie.
Constance Roach, New College Lecturer and Debating Society Lead said: "Both Edmund and Sophie performed brilliantly, and were praised by all of the judges, as well as several of the teachers from the other schools for their passionate delivery, as well as their ability to calmly handle all of the counter-arguments and challenges thrown at them. Their stunning final debate meant that not only did they claim victory as the best team in the competition, but Edmund was named runner-up as individual debater, and Sophie won the overall individual contest – an outstanding achievement."