The DEREE Debating Club organized the 50th DEREE Invitational, celebrating the 25th year since the establishment of the biannual British-style debating competition in 1987. The event hosted 112 teams, including 280 participants representing high school students, university students and alumni, while it offered former ACG debaters – both PIERCE and DEREE alumni – the opportunity to meet once again on campus for a Debating Reunion.
D’92 graduate Georgios Vassilaras is one of the founding members of the Debating Club, and was also a member of the executive organizing committee of the first ever DEREE Invitational. The alumnus returned to his alma mater in celebration of the 50th anniversary, during which he also led the Chief Adjudicator team (CA) of the Debating Tournament. Debater Lana DeBeer (D’00) was also part of the CA team and, together with Mr. Vassilara, they brought the World Universities Debating Championship to Athens in 1998, which was the first time the competition had ever been held in a non-English speaking country.
The 50th anniversary of the event also marked the occasion of naming the award for Best Speaker afterDr. Albert Arouh, a beloved DEREE professor of Economics who shaped the minds of many a student and who was the longest-serving DEREE Debating Club Advisor. This competition’s Albert Arouh Best Speaker Award was given to Jason Palmer.
This year’s tournament was won by the team of Stratos Baloutsos and Petros Papalianos, and the Best Novice Team Award was given to the team of Sam Manchester and Danny Cronin.
The participants debated issues such as the decriminalization of physician-assisted suicide, and aspects of the current refugee crisis, while the motion of the Final Competition was: THBT (This House Believes That) “There is no such thing as a just war,” which was also the motion of the Final of the first ever DEREE Invitational.
Following the tournament final, the reunion reception was held on Saturday, November 21, in collaboration with the Debate Club and the offices of Development and Alumni Relations and StudentAffairs to celebrate ACG’s long tradition in debating and forensics.
Recent debating alumna Maria-Zoe Papaioannou (D’15) was one of the competition’s judges, and this was her first time judging younger debaters. Ms. Papaioannou said, “There’s no age in debate, the experience may be different but the enthusiasm, the passion, they’re the same!”
Debater Thodoris Sotiriou, who was also one of the Chief Adjudicators, said that the 50th Invitational was a “huge milestone, showing a strong tradition” and that “the values of the American educational system surface through debate; for example, you are called on to advocate on behalf of, and defend your own ideas, but others also have ideas which are worth supporting as well.”
Debating alumna Laura Anastassopoulou (P’94, D’98) said at the reunion reception, “It’s really nice to be here after so many years, and to see that the tournament has grown so much.” When asked if their club keeps in touch, Ms. Anastassopoulou said she actually married a Debate Club alumnus, and mused that “It runs in the family – you grow older and your kids become debaters as well!”
DEREE ‘03 graduate Tasos Katechis and former president of the Club said, “Debate is the best investment you can make because what you learn from debate cannot be taught in a classroom.” Busy working at the UN Refugee Agency, Mr. Katechis still finds time to coach younger debaters because, as he said, “It changed my life, and I want to give more young people the gift that debate gave to me.”