They Are the Champions!

Guelph debaters capture first place
at North American competition

Provost Iain Campbell, right, congratulates winning debaters Nathan MacDonald and Averill Pessin.

Two U of G students brought home the top prize last month from the North American Debating Championships at Smith College in Springfield, Mass.

  Averill Pessin, a fourth-year philosophy student originally from Vancouver, and Nathan MacDonald, a fourth-year political science and philosophy student from Sydney, N.S., captured first place in 10 rounds of debate, beating teams from Princeton, Stanford, Brandeis, Johns Hopkins, McGill, Queen's University, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario. In the final round, Pessin and MacDonald beat a team from New York University in a debate on the ethics of colonialism.

  MacDonald was defending the North American championship he won last year while on a letter of permission at the University of Western Ontario. No other debater in the history of the North American championship has ever won twice, let alone two years in a row. In the fourth round of debate, he received a perfect score of 30/30, an unprecedented achievement in North American debate.

  Both MacDonald and Pessin credit their win to the training they've received as members of the U of G Debating Society and the financial support the society has received from across the University, enabling team members to attend tournaments. A full list of sponsors is online at

  The Debating Society will host its own tournament - the third annual North American Novice Open Championships - March 19 to 21. Anyone interested in sponsoring the event can send e-mail to