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Top British Debaters Visit Cumberlands


British debate team

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – Two of the top debaters in the United Kingdom came to Williamsburg on November 3 to debate two members of the University of the Cumberlands speech and debate team as part of the annual English-Speaking Union (ESU) debate tour. “It’s an honor for UC to be part of the oldest and most prestigious debate tour,” remarked Dr. Larry Cockrum, Cumberlands’ vice president for academic affairs. The communication and theater arts department hosted the event in the Hutton School of Business’s Hal Rogers Technology Center.

The debate, part of a three-month tour of 32 U.S. colleges, marked the first time in the tour’s 85-year history that it had stopped at University of the Cumberlands. UC students Jamie Gregory and Tim Riley debated the ESU’s team of Alistair Cormack and Alex Just. The resolution that the teams were debating, “This house believes that the U.S. would be better if it looked more like the U.K.” was opposed by the British team and supported by the team from UC.


Andy Wolfe

The debate was held in the model of parliamentary debate, which requires “thinking on your feet,” according to UC student Andy Wolfe. Normally, a debate has a judge who determines the winner, but for this debate, the public was invited to vote to decide the winner.

The UC team, which was charged with supporting the debate resolution, gave arguments based on the lack of mass transit in America when compared to the U.K., the absence of a royal family in America, the need for more public appearances by the country’s head of government and the need for America to use the metric system.

The British team, however, gave arguments based on the uniqueness of the U.S.—America’s written constitution, the idea of the “American Dream” and the world-wide influence that America has. Both teams were also given a rebuttal period.

The winner of the debate, as decided by the audience, was the British team of Alistair Cormack and Alex Just. As a token of appreciation, Cormack and Just were both presented with University of the Cumberlands sweatshirts and duffle bags.

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is a private liberal arts college in its 118th year of operation. Cumberlands offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, graduate degrees and certifications in education as well as online programs.