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WCM-Q debaters clinch victory in online contest

WCM-Q's Debate Club won the first ever fully online event of the Qatar Universities Debate League.
WCM-Q's Debate Club won the first ever fully online event of the Qatar Universities Debate League.

The Debate Club at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) recorded a win in the first ever fully online event of the Qatar Universities Debate League (QUDL), debating topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiculturalism and youth protests against police brutality in Nigeria.

After three rounds of debate, the WCM-Q team emerged victorious with 13 points, narrowly edging out the second-placed team from Georgetown University in Qatar with 12. Stenden Qatar University finished in third place with 10 points, with Qatar University in fourth with nine points and Texas A&M University at Qatar fifth with three points.

Among the WCM-Q team was former student and previous Debate Club president Dr. Ahmad Al-Meer (Class of 2017), now a physician at Hamad Medical Corporation, who returned as a guest debater. As Dr. Al-Meer is not currently a student, his points were not counted towards the final tally, but WCM-Q was still able to prevail.

WCM-Q debaters also managed to secure the top three places in the individual speakers’ category, with Dr. Al-Meer finishing first, while first-year premedical student Maryam Arabi took second place, with second-year medical student Safah Khan sharing third spot with Amr Ahmed.

The first motion in the debate contest, organized by QatarDebate Center, was: “In times of pandemics, this house would significantly relax the minimum safety and efficacy standards required for the approval of treatments and vaccines,” while in the second round the teams debated the motion: “This house believes that governments should prioritize policies focused on assimilation over policies of multiculturalism.” The third and final motion debated the degree to which contemporary Nigerian youth are equipped with sufficient expertise to direct public policy.

Safah Khan, who is the current vice-president of the WCM-Q Debate Club, said: “We are thrilled that QUDL is still organizing debates during the pandemic and of course very happy that we won. While there will never be a substitute for live, in-person debate, we are so pleased that QUDL and the competing teams have kept the culture of debate alive in the online space. We are all now looking forward to the day when we can meet again to debate with one another, but until then we are very excited to be able to convene online to scrutinize the issues of the day.”

Debate coach Dr. Rodney Sharkey, Professor of English at WCM-Q, said: “Despite the recent pandemic lockdown and on-going social distance requirements, Debate Club has been very active. Ironically, we had an online debate about whether the schools should return in August and we had a larger turn out on Zoom than we probably would have had in the building. As well as boosting attendances, easier accessibility online has also created unusual new alliances, such as Hamad Medical Corporation MD Ahmad Al-Meer joining new first-year premedical students in the debate chamber at the virtual QUDL. It’s a mark of the club’s social importance that first-year students get to meet and debate with a successful alumnus. We’re all looking forward to those encounters happening in person.”