Philomathean Society Defeats Exeter in First Annual Andover-Exeter Debate

This past Sunday, students from Andover and Exeter gathered on campus to revive the once-annual tradition of Andover-Exeter Debate, led by the Philomathean Society and Exeter’s Daniel Webster Debate Society.

Caroline Chen ’14, Philo Associate, discovered this forgotten tradition while researching for her Winter Term History 300 paper. The event has no clear starting date, but was first noted by The Phillipian around 1910, according to Chen.

One of the highlights of the day, according to Edward Molé, co-head of The Philomathean Society (Philo) was the final exhibition round. In this debate, the co-heads of each school’s team sat down for a formal debate to argue the resolution: “Be it resolved that Andover is better than Exeter.”

“The resolution was decided by our advisor [Elizabeth Tully] and our Director in Training, John French [’13]. We didn’t know the resolution until around five minutes before we went into the exhibition round,” said Haonan Li, co-head of Philo.

“We had to argue that Exeter was better, whereas they had to argue that Andover was better, which was very entertaining and enjoyable to do,” Li added.

Members of Philo noted that this debate presented a unique opportunity for students from each school to get to know each other, which is unusual for an interscholastic competition, according to Alex Sweeting ’14, Philo Associate.

“It was a lot more personal than most other debates. There was a little lunch that occurred during the debate where we were able to socialize with everyone for a good amount of time,” said Sweeting.

One of the main concerns with the debate was the event’s scheduling, which prevented many members from both teams from being able to participate.

“Because of the lack of Seniors, we were able to put Uppers and Lowers from both sides in the debate. In that sense, it was great because we were able to debate against people who will be in leadership positions next year. I like that, because again, we will be able to form a stronger bond between the two clubs, fostering a better relationship,” said Sweeting.

Although the debate largely retained the same parliamentary format as most tournaments Philo attends, Li noted that this event had to be limited to two rounds of debates because of a limited amount of participants, as well as time constraints.

“This year was almost a trial run. We’re going to try and at least double the event in size. Ideally, we would love everyone in Philo to come and participate,” said Chen.

Once the debate had come to a close, Sweeting and Chen were awarded the distinction of First Advanced Pair for the tournament. Rachel Murree ’14 was awarded First Advanced Speaker, and Harshita Gaba ’14 was named Second Novice Speaker. Andover won in the Advanced Division and Exeter won in the Novice Divisions.

The Andover-Exeter debate will run in future years with the same format as traditional rival competitions, so each school will alternate as host. The debate will occur at Exeter next year.