Li ’13 Qualifies for WIDPSC Debating Championships

Haonan Li ’13 will bring his debating skills to a new, international stage, after qualifying for the World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championships (WIDPSC) this week. Li won a spot to travel to the competition in Australia this spring after he earned first place in the advanced division of the Loomis Chaffee Debate Tournament last Sunday. Last year, 11 debaters from across the United States won a spot to represent the country against 99 debaters from 15 other countries. This year, Li will join the team—though the total number of debaters is currently unknown. At WIDPSC, Li will compete in four different oratory skills: debate, impromptu speaking, persuasive or after dinner speaking and interpretive reading. Li plans on preparing for the competition by working with Bob Hutchings, an advisor for the Philomathean Society and teacher at The Pike School, to prepare for the speech portions of the competition. He also hopes to get help from Kevin Heelan, Instructor in Theatre and Dance and his public speaking teacher. Li reflected on the win, saying “people try to attribute [these types of things] to one person, but really it was a team effort. All the associate [board members] worked on the case together. Everyone works together, in the end. Even though only one person formally wins, it really is a team effort, it’s a school effort.” Li competed against 49 debaters from Andover and eight other schools, including The Hotchkiss School, The Loomis Chaffee School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Deerfield Academy, The Roxbury Latin School, Joel Barlow High School, The Kingswood-Oxford School and Groton School. The debate was an Oregon-style prepared debate, which means that the topic was decided before the day of the competition and debaters could prepare cases in advance. Li debated the resolution, “Resolved: that significant procedural change(s), to include filibuster reform, should be made in the United States legislature.” He said, “I thought that the topic was less than ideal… it was really difficult for the negative [side of the debate] to argue because you have to argue against filibuster reform and reform can be anything. You can change a letter in the bill, and it will be considered reform so it was really hard to argue against it.” According to Li, however, the team from Andover constructed a strong negative case because it found information about a current filibuster bill in Congress. At Loomis Chaffee, Andover argued “Af-Af-Neg” which means that it argued for the filibuster reform twice and argued against it in the third round. In addition to Li’s success at the Loomis Chaffee tournament, the Andover team secured other top wins. Co-Presidents of the Philomathean Society Matthew Lloyd-Thomas ’12 and Jack Sykes ’12 came in second and third, respectively. WIDPSC will be held at the Moreton Bay Boys’ College in Brisbane, Australia from March 29 to April 4. In past years, the tournament has included students from Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, United States, England, South Africa, Lithuania, Pakistan, Cyprus, Argentina, Botswana, Israel, India, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Germany, according to the WIDPSC website.