“And the Winner is…” : A Recap of the First gnovisLive Debate

“Just because you have thousands of friends on Facebook doesn’t mean you’ve been hugged in the past year,” joked the Moderator – Dr. Meg Jones – in her opening statements for Tuesday’s first ever gnovisLive debate. What followed was a highly attended, insightful, energetic, humorous, and participatory Oxford-style debate prompted by the motion: Technology Will Bring Us Together.

voting station

one chocolate one vote

Upon entering, audience members were invited to cast an initial vote on the motion: for, against, or undecided. At the conclusion of the debate audience members were prompted to vote once more. The winning team would be decided based on who was able to sway the most votes.

Affirmative: Paul Beasley, Ellen Falci, and John Hanacek.

Negative: Hannah Calkins, Linda Huber, Isaac Riddle.

The actual debate was divided into three sections. First, each of the six student debaters were given three minutes to make opening remarks. Then, the debaters fielded questions from Dr. Jones as well as the audience. Finally, each individual was allowed three more minutes for a last persuasive push.

So who won? Both sides presented strong arguments. The audience was challenged to consider if togetherness is equitable with connectedness, whether togetherness implies a moral good, and what role individuals have in actively shaping the impact of technology. The debaters took offence with almost every word contained within the motion (though I never did hear the nature of “bring” discussed) but ultimately the negative side claimed victory, inciting 16% of the audience to switch to their position.

The evening did not end when victory was declared however. Dr. Jones provided a brief critique of the debaters’ arguments then opened the floor for a lively post-debate discussion on argument building and persuasive speaking. It was an exciting moment where students had the opportunity to reflect with each other on academic discourse, considering what was most effective and what could be improved.

gnovis editor and chief, debater, and event mastermind Isaac Riddle, believes the event met his goals and more:

“The motivation for the debate was two fold; first was to have a forum for some of the intelligent and creative student minds of CCT to be able to focus on a contentious issue.  The second was to present a model of effective academic discourse that is both contentious and respectful.  I think the debate was a great success on both accounts.  The debaters brought in really diverse and thoughtful perspectives and demonstrated real rhetorical skill.  What was the most fun for me was how much the audience got involved.  The question and answer period was lively, so much so that the moderator had to eventually cut it short.  Seeing my peers interest and involvement is really how I measured the event, and on this account the debate was a great success.  Also, the debate would not have been as pointed or vibrant without the skillful moderation of Dr. Meg Jones.  She really kept the debate on track and maintained a tone that was both intellectual and fun.”

As for our moderator Dr. Jones, she had this to say:

“The event was an experiment and certainly surpassed my expectations. The panelists were spectacular and the audience was wonderfully engaged. Can’t wait for the next one!”
debate

We can’t wait either.

A big thank you to Dr. Jones, our student debaters, and our audience members. We look forward to seeing you at more gnovis events throughout the year!

 
Sarah Reif

Sarah Reif is a former MA candidate in Georgetown's CCT program. She is interested in participatory culture, pop culture, and identity politics – particularly how internet mediated communication affects how we view connections, manifest creative impulses, and form a sense of self