About Us

Meetings

Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 4:00 in Arts 202. New members always welcome.

Email debate.society[at]usask.ca if you have any questions.

What we do

Among socials, travelling, volunteering, practicing, and competing, the UofS Debate Society hosts and attends a plethora of events. Although we don’t spend all of our time debating, it certainly is our focus. There are two styles of debate that we use primarily.

Canadian Parliamentary (CP) style is a simple, two-team style. Each team consists of two people, and will be either the government (pro/affirmative side) or the opposition (con/negative side). The two members of the government team are the prime minister and the minister of the crown, while the two members of the opposition team are the member of the opposition and the leader of the opposition. 15 minutes before the debate, the government team is given a resolution, topic, or quote, which they then interpret and formulate a case based on (eg. ‘Marijuana should be legalized’ or ‘Batman is cooler than Superman’). The opposition won’t know anything about this case until the beginning of the debate. A debate runs as follows: PM speaks for up to 5 minutes, MO speaks for up to 8 minutes, MC speaks for up to 8 minutes, LO speaks for up to 8 minutes (last 3 are considered official rebuttal so no new information is allowed), and the PM delivers a rebuttal (no new information) for up to 3 minutes. The judge(s) then decide on a winning team.

British Parliamentary (BP) style is very content-focused. It mimicks a coalition government situation with a split opposition. There are four teams: 1st proposition (prime minister and deputy prime minister), 1st opposition (leader of the opposition and deputy leader opposition), 2nd proposition (member of government and government whip), and 2nd opposition (member of opposition and opposition whip). 15 minutes before the debate, everyone is given a motion for debate which is not open to interpretation (‘straight’). So this time, the opposition teams can prepare beforehand. The proposition supports the motion, while the opposition opposes the motion. A debate runs as follows: PM (7 min), LO (7 min), DPM (7 min), DLO (7 min), MG (7 min), MO (7 min), GW (7 min), OW (7 min). The most unique aspect of this style is that each closing team must support their respective opening team, but by extending the debate in a new direction (so if 1st proposition focused on the practicalities of legalizing marijuana, 2nd proposition could focus on moral reasons to do so). The whip speeches are rebuttles, providng a biased summary of the debate. Throughout the debate, debaters can rise on points of information (POIs), asking a question or giving a short comment. At the end, the judges rank the teams from 1 to 4 based on how well they argued and fulfilled their role as a team.

There is a third activity that may take place at some debate tournaments called public speech. A participant is given a few minutes to prepare a speech on an impromptu topic that is given to them. They then make a 3 minute speech to entertain, inform, or provoke some other thought or emotion. The judges will score them on how well they achieved their objective. Winning speeches are almost always humourous.