The Secret Life of Parliamentary Debaters

Disclaimer: No parliamentary debaters were offended in the writing of this article. Alright, maybe they were — but they’re used to that. Have you even met their coaches?!


Sure you’ve heard of them, maybe you’ve even seen them in public once or twice, even tried to talk to them before giving up entirely. The words that come out of their mouths make sense separately, but you’ll be lucky if you get the gist of what they’re saying. What even is a negative case, by the way? And who is this feared Sir Ali? Here’s the real, authentic, first-hand All-You-Need-To-Know before you approach a debater.


There are a couple of things you need to be a true parliamentary debater. As our sources tell us, it is important not having certain things: a life, social skills and a hairbrush. Though the deal to stand up for eight minutes and roast everyone else is tempting, losing a hairbrush might be the dealbreaker here.

You might have noticed your friends starting to resemble raccoons. After every tournament they don’t win, you notice the circles around their eyes a shade darker until you start questioning if it’s stress or just a new makeup trend going around. This is all perfectly normal — and a staple of every debaters rigorous regiment (which we’ve heard involves summoning unquestionable horrors from the underworld to get more than 70 speaker points, but our sources refused to elaborate.)

In debates there are two teams debating on each topic, one for and one against. There are also three speakers from each team. What you speak doesn’t necessarily matter. What does matter, however, is if you’re the first, second, or third speaker: see, parliamentary debaters don’t believe in horoscopes. Instead they just base their entire personalities over their speaker positions.

Sidenote: Nothing but respect for my president!

First speakers are proud of the fact that they’re the most important speaker. Second speakers argue that they’re not actually that important. Third speakers don’t exist, and those that do disappear under mysterious circumstances.

But debaters aren’t all the same. (At least, we’re not legally allowed to say that). You have your serious kids who are here to win and overachieve. You have kids who are here to have a good time, crack a few puns and order pizza once a week. Lastly, you have the new kids who look like tiny children and that is all they do.


We’ve also heard that apparently parliamentary debates are also very rewarding, let you meet some of the coolest and nicest people you will ever find, get you free pizza at least once a week and whatnot. I mean I suppose it could be true, but fake news is everywhere, right?

And for all these reasons — please, please — be nicer to us.

by Minal Qureshi
Class of 2020

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