Debating society having, arguably, a fantastic season

With strong showings in eight tournaments already this academic year, the University of Western Ontario Debating Society has been taking North America by storm.

At the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate Central Novice Championships in September, first-year debaters Katrina Dods and Sam Shadowitz won the tournament, with Ryan Howson and Christian Taylor finishing second. Thus, the society boasted the two top novice debating teams in Canada. Furthermore, five ‘novices’ finished on the list of Top 20 speakers.

At the North American British Parliamentary Championships at the University of Toronto, a team comprised of Huron University College student Victoria Hale, society president, and Brent Schmidt broke to the playoffs ranking fourth out of almost 100 teams – beating teams from Harvard and Yale for the honour.

At the Queen’s Chancellor’s Cup in October, Hale and Schmidt broke fifth, and then whizzed through a decisive semi-final win to debate in a close grand-final round. They finished as the tournament’s fourth- and sixth-place speakers, respectively.

At the Canadian British Parliamentary Championships in November, Hale and Schmidt broke to the playoffs first on a perfect 15 points. Schmidt won the tournament’s top-speaker award; Hale finished fourth. The team lost a close grand-final to McGill.

In December, the society sent teams to Chennai, India, to compete at the World’s University Debating Championship. The event is the largest and most competitive tournament in the world, featuring 800 of the planet’s most eloquent and convincing speakers who compete over a week in British Parliamentary debate. With the second-best finish among all the Canadian teams, Hale and Schmidt earned a spot in the playoffs. The team finished in the Top 30 globally.

Back at Western, society members participate in numerous events across campus. The society hosts an annual high school tournament for more than 100 debaters from across Ontario every November. Furthermore, society members run a Leadership Education Program Module teaching public speaking to other Western students, and appear on Toe-to-Toe, a weekly Roger’s TV’s show where they adjudicate and provide commentary on competitive debates between local and provincial politicians. Finally, the society organizes biannual professor-student debates in conjunction with Western’s Faculty of Social Science and the affiliate university colleges, the most recent one occurred in November.

The society meets at 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesday in University College 202. New members are always welcome.


A Western student has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, the Middlesex-London Health Unit announced Monday.

Meningococcal disease is a serious infection that affects the lining of the brain (resulting in meningitis) or can cause an infection in the blood. It is spread by sharing saliva.

The disease, fatal in only 10 per cent of cases, is serious, although not unusual. The health unit has been in contact with those closely connected to the student. Those individuals have been offered antibiotics to prevent infection. The chance that others will become ill is very small.

However, as a precaution, students are being advised not to share objects that have been other people’s mouths and to seek medical attention as soon as possible should symptoms develop. People should avoid sharing cigarettes or lipstick, food or beverages (including unwashed glasses or utensils, bottles, cans and drinking straws), toothbrushes or mouth guards and unwashed musical instruments with mouthpieces.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include a severe headache, high fever, vomiting, neck stiffness, irritability or drowsiness, confusion or coma and a red-purple, pin-point rash or bruises anywhere on the body.

Should these symptoms develop, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Additional information on meningococcal disease can be found on the Middlesex-London Health Unit website,, or by calling 519-663-5317 ext. 2330 or after hours at 519-675-7523.

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A Western team comprised of Stefan Losberg, Rebecca Brown and David Ferguson, all Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies students, finished fourth in this year’s edition of the Battle for CA$H on Saturday.

Sponsored by the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Ontario, CA$H pitted 37 three-person teams against each other in friendly a competition stressing the use of CPA skills. Western finished behind teams from the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto-St. George and Wilfrid Laurier University.

“The CA$H competition is a chance for students to learn about the skills they’ll need to succeed in the world of business, while competing for prizes that can help fund their education,” said Sheetal Gupta, associate director, career information, at CPA Ontario. “It’s a fun event that gives participants a chance to network with peers from across the province and meet representatives from the Approved Training Offices.

“The winners enjoy the cash they get from CA$H but, for the students who didn’t win, we think this competition demonstrates the value of considering the CPA profession; a decision that would certainly make them a winner in the long run.”

The Western team took home a $400 prize.

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We Teach Ontario wants to know how research inspired you.

Last week, the organization students and/or alumni to create a short video explaining how a professor’s research has inspired or helped them succeed. The videos uploaded to YouTube, and then announced through the We Teach Ontario Facebook page. The contest offers former and current Ontario university students the chance to win prizes like an iPhone or iPad Mini and a trip to Toronto to attend the OCUFA Future U conference.

Created by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), We Teach Ontario highlights how, together, teaching and research are at the heart of our province’s universities.

Details and contest teaser videos can be found at and

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Ontario is providing 4,500 college and university students who receive support through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) a financial incentive to volunteer for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. New and returning students who won’t be required to make a pre-study financial contribution, meaning they can receive more support through OSAP because they volunteered instead of taking paid jobs during the summer break. New graduates who volunteer will be able to defer paying their OSAP loan until one full year after completing full-time studies.

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Engineering students take to the slopes in title defence

GREAT raceSubmitted Photo
The Western Engineering Toboggan Team will defend its national title on ‘home snow’ at the 40th anniversary of the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race, being held at London’s Boler Mountain Jan. 29-Feb. 2. The competition brings together more than 400 students from the top engineering programs across the country to race their concrete toboggan creations. As per competition rules, the toboggan must not weigh more than 300 pounds (136.1 kg). The running surface must be made of only concrete and every toboggan must be designed with a roll bar/cage, steering and braking system. For details on the event, visit