Bravo for the Beale Debate

Beale Debate

By Naomi Morris Omori

As seen in Pegasus Pages (December 2012) and the Gloucestershire Echo (Monday, 21st January, 2013).

Eight debaters stunned at The Cheltenham Ladies’ College’s Beale Debate last term, and Guild (CLC’s alumnae association) left with an impressive victory, despite the skilful arguments put forward by girls in College.

If there is one event of the school calendar which is the most overlooked, it is the Beale Debate. People often forget about it at the end of the year, amongst the bustle of Christmas and end-of-term festivities. However, one is surprised by the passion and enthusiasm which races around the galleries of the PH, once the girls remember how fun it is, despite having to sit still for two hours.

Minty Eyre and Mimi Prickett opposed Eleanor Hervey-Bathurst and Lizzie Boyd for ‘This House would do the honourable thing and fall on its sword.’ Selina-Jane Spencer and Bethany Evans went against Guild members, Alex Walvis and Caroline Dobbin, debating about Twitter, proposing the motion: ‘This House believes Twitter is a menace to society’. Alex Walvis, a previous Head Prefect, is the first to take home the plate as a student and as a Guild member.

Debating in front of the whole school, an audience of more than eight hundred pupils, did not put off the teams in any way. The adjudicators were highly impressed with the impressive skills shown and the debaters were marked on content, strategy, and style. Prickett and Eyre were complimented on their “excellent content and examples” and Hervey-Bathurst and Boyd displayed “great clarity” in their delivery.

It was the final debate which completely stole the audience’s attention, with “great teamwork and some very emotional language” from Evans and Spencer and “very, very good and very clearly argued” points from Walvis and Dobbin, partly due to the fact that an estimated 25% of the audience were ‘Tweeters’, making the debate extremely relevant.

An array of probing questions and “spirited contributions” from the floor proved how far everyone, aged eleven to eighteen, was encapsulated by the lively debate. Questions ranged from comparisons of Twitter to Club Penguin (a children’s online game) to melancholic musings, such as, “I cannot say that [Twitter] is destroying society, but it is certainly destroying something.” Walrus closed the debate, to which the audience responded with a sustained applause, with, “Do we want to be less technologically advanced than the Vattican? I urge you to #oppose the motion.”

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