Glasgow University student ranked best speaker in Europe

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Bethany Garry debating

Credit: European Universities Debating Championships

Jess Owen
News Editor

On 19 August, a team from the Glasgow University Union (GUU) Debating Society won first place in the 2017 European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC) in Tallinn, Estonia.

Student debaters Bethany Garry and Owen Mooney became European champions after giving their final speeches on the Saturday night, defeating two teams from Oxford University and one team from Tel Aviv in the final.

The winning team, known as GUU A, was one of three teams from GUU’s Debating Society that participated in the competition at the Tallinn University of Technology, with the event hosting a total of 230 teams from all over Europe.
Each team was given 15 minutes to prepare their speeches after being allocated a stance either for or against the motion of the final, which was: “This House, as the Kremlin, would commemorate the 1917 Russian Revolution as a tragedy rather than a triumph for the nation”.

Garry and Mooney were assigned the ‘for’ stance for the motion, and successfully beat their six other competitors with their combined scores.

When scored individually, Bethany Garry came joint first with an average speaker score of 83.3 and Owen Mooney claimed third place with an average score of 83.2, giving Garry the title of the best speaker in Europe.

In a statement given to the Glasgow Guardian, Garry said, “Reaching the final and winning EUDC for GUU is absolutely fantastic.

“I’ve really found a home at GUU Debating, which has supported me over so many years of hard work, and given me so many amazing opportunities.”

Her teammate, Owen Mooney, added: “It was a real honour to represent the Union and to repay all of the hard work and support from the debating community at the GUU that has meant so much to us over the years.”

The European Universities Debating Championship will be hosted in Edinburgh next year, bringing the competition to Scotland.

“It was a pleasure to be able to show off Scotland to Europe before Scottish EUDC 2018,” said Garry, “Scottish debaters from Glasgow and all over Scotland are working together to host one of the largest completely student-run events in Europe, so it felt great to do them proud.”

GUU A is the first winning team since 2005 to contain a woman, and Garry is the first woman ever to be ranked both champion and best speaker in Europe, which she calls a “great responsibility and a huge honour. It’s heartening to know that GUU and Scotland are part of increasing female representation in debating at the highest levels.”

The GUU Debating Society holds training sessions every Tuesday in the Bridie Library of the GUU.