Eighty-four teams out of the 800 who originally competed in the Oxford Union Schools’ Debating Competition arrived in Oxford on Saturday 10 March for Finals Day, including three teams from Dulwich. Sam Collier and Will Cook comprised Dulwich A; Patrick Kenny and Louis Collier, Dulwich B; and Angus Tayler and Arnav Kapur, Dulwich C.
The day consisted of four rounds of debates and then the grand final, with no semi-final round, narrowing that original field of 800 down to only four.
The first round’s motion was ‘This House believes that the State should force-feed hunger strikers’; the second, ‘The House would create paid salaries for all housewives and househusbands’; the third round found the boys debating the rather challenging motion ‘This House would make poverty a criminal defence in countries with very limited welfare systems’; and the fourth round’s motion was ‘This House would set up tradable quota systems of asylum seekers in the EU’.
After a tense wait following the fourth round, the four teams, positions and motion for the grand final were announced: Dulwich A in first proposition, Westminster in first opposition, George Heriot’s School in second proposition and St Paul’s Boys School in second opposition, debating the motion ‘This House regrets the extra-judicial killing of Gaddafi’.
Although Westminster took the cup, Dulwich debaters should celebrate their exceptional performance on the day. Sam Collier topped the speaker tab for the fourth competition this season (Cambridge, Bristol and UCL were the other three), confirming his spot as the best debater in the United Kingdom at schools’ level. Will Cook came an outstanding fifth, out of the 186 speakers at the competition. Louis Collier came an impressive 37th, with Angus and Patrick at joint 73rd. Arnav came 94th, a position which still places him in the top 100 debaters in the country.