DUB Speak

Life At Delhi University: The Debating Society

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Christopher Hitchens once remarked, “Time spent arguing is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.
And rightly so, for debating in DU is one of the most gratifying and fruitful activities. In school, debating is one of those things that students pursue outside their curriculum, as a leisure activity. In college however, debating is more than just a hobby. For many, debating becomes life itself. That, in a nutshell, highlights the intensity and passion with which people debate in DU; the colossal time that it consumes; and the euphoria of achievement that it is capable of bringing to the winners.

Ignorant freshers often believe that their experiences from MUNs and school level debating are sufficient for conquering the DU debating scene. But such complacency is the biggest myth attached to the DebSoc. Firstly, every college debating society conducts trials for freshers, where the main criteria for selection is a person’s ability to reason, articulate and argue.  So no fresher will ever be prejudiced against the lack of prior debating experience.  Secondly, every society invests at least a month in training their newest members in different forms and styles, indoctrinating nuanced arguments and holding mock debates. This training period goes a long way in prepping the rookie debaters for their initial tournaments (eg: Fresher tournaments).Thereafter, the credentials of a debater will solely depend on his participation, potential and growth.

There are several reasons why you should consider taking up debating in college. Debating will help rid you of your inhibitions, make you more knowledgeable, teach you how to cajole people in the cleverest of ways, widen your ability to reason with logic and give you a college life worth experiencing.

But before you immerse yourself in the world of DU Debating, here are five things to know about the Debsoc ethos:

A. Killer Kompetition
The circuit doesn’t have an age bar and quite often, you might land up in a sticky situation where you, as team of fucchas, are debating against stalwarts from Law Faculty and DSE, people who are almost three years greater than you in age and experience. This can be extremely intimidating, especially if the seniors take you as a joke. Winning in such scenarios is almost next to impossible. The best thing to do then is to take the debate as a learning experience. Instead of getting discouraged by failure, keep up the perseverance and debate with panache! Who knows, maybe a couple of months later, when faced with the same team of titans, you cream your opponents. Or more realistically, at least manage to put up a decent fight!

B. Break Night Parties
When you’re in the debating society, exciting break night lore will form a substantial part of the legacy that you will receive from your seniors. Break night parties are one of the two (the other being the hefty cash prizes) things that draw senior debaters to a tournament. Senior participation decides the reputation of a tournament, and thus it is absolutely essential to host an extravagant break night party. Debaters are hedonists; that is the crooked truth.

Break night parties are like after parties: exclusive and lavish, anything and everything worth talking about happens here! Debaters let loose and enjoy the music, food and other gifts of Dionysius. After attending a break night party, you will realise (and possibly relish) that you belong to an elite society of people who are smart, yet know how to enjoy the finer things in life. Your first break night party will become a defining moment in your debating life and certainly a memory that you will cherish otherwise as well.

C.  The freaky outstations
For a debater, outstation tournaments are equally, if not more, important than DU tournaments and your seniors in the society will insist that your participation is well rounded. But getting permission from your parents, making arrangements for transportation and accommodation and saving for expected expenses are arduous tasks. Missing out on such tournaments can put you legions behind and hurt your growth. Outstations are usually a big no for debaters from conservative families. But those who have attended outstation tournaments will unanimously agree that an outstation tournament is like a never ending break night party: a perfect balance between work and play!

D. My way or the Highway
To survive in the circuit, you must be adept in one of the following two things: A. You must either possess tremendous knowledge about several issues like International Relations (IR), Economics, Third Gender Rights, Feminism etc OR B.You must make the other person believe that you possess in depth knowledge about these things. Not that you can faff your way to the finals. But a decent level of knowledge, complemented by a receptive mind, quick thinking and cocky smartness, can help you argue your way through the toughest and slimiest of motions. When all else fails, smartness will double up as a reliable weapon.

E. Family, not society
Most tournaments happen over a span of three to four days and take up almost six to seven hours per day. On non-tournament days, most debaters spend their time in intra and inter societal mock debates. Some others can be found in their groups, discussing raging issues in the library or just chilling in the college canteen. When you spend so much time with your society, members become the best of friends in no time. The bond that you share with your fellow debaters is inexplicable.It’s so tight and lasting that you might as well be a part of a family. Truly, DebSoc Bonhomie is a thing of legends.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I were to say that the debating society is the object of desire of every fresher. The glamour, the talent and the intellect are sure to lure you right in!

But a word of caution: Join the DebSoc,but join it for keeps. Invest your effort if you intend on staying; don’t join the society if you want instant results and lack patience. Debating requires time and commitment, because you’ll take at least a year to learn the tricks of the trade, another year to establish yourself in the circuit, and if you’re one of those bright bulbs, then you’ll finally come around to shining in your third year.

So, if you’re one of those toughies who have mastered the art of determination and perseverance, join the debating society to develop a skill set that will help you in every phase of your life.

Kriti Sharma
[email protected]

Kriti Sharma is studying BCom (Hons) at Hansraj College. She has a myriad interests, writing being just one of them. A debater, a scholar, a fashionista, she is more of an outdoors person who likes to run 6-8 km a day, just to clear her head. She is an ‘Army Brat’, but an unlikely one. Reading a book by lantern light in a tent by the banks of river Indus after a hard day’s trek in the mountains is her idea of bliss. She wants to be an investment banker but admits that writing lets her escape into a world of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

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