Department of English, NCCU Hosts the 6th Taiwan Schools Debate Challenge

Date : 2023-11-30 Department : Department of English

【Article by Department of English】

The Sixth Taiwan Schools Debate Challenge (TSDC) was held on the campus of National Chengchi University during the weekend of November 25 and 26. TSDC was a modified World Schools style debate tournament, meaning that the debaters could be high school students or younger, and that two teams of three debaters would face off in each match. In total, 139 debaters, forming 38 teams (including 18 junior teams), traveled from as far away as Kaohsiung, to attend the tournament that was organized by Speechcraft and hosted by the Department of English, NCCU. (

With the addition of tournament convener Jeff Tsai of Speechcraft, an Adjudication Core led by Daryl Isla, 25 invited adjudicators, and a host of additional parents, coaches, and chaperones, the first-floor auditorium of the General Building held a standing room only crowd at the start of each day of debating.

TSDC began with four preliminary “out rounds” before eight teams were selected for the Open Quarterfinals, and eight more teams made the Junior Quarterfinals. The first motion of the tournament was an impromptu motion related to the blazing hot issue of Artificial Intelligence, specifically to cost savings accrued by replacing humans with AI: “This house believes that we should levy an unemployment tax on the generated savings [from replacing humans with AI].” The debaters only had 30 minutes to prepare once this motion was released.

The second motion of the day, the only prepared motion which was released before the start of the tournament, was “Instead of only prioritizing critical cases, this house would always allocate transplant organs to non-smokers first.” [Round 2 livestream:]

The first day of TSDC ended with an impromptu motion that caused the audience to gasp in surprise and immediately break out in animated chatter: “This house believes that we should criminalize parents who spank their children.” [Round 3 livestream:]

The second day of TSDC started with the final out round motion: “This house believes that western liberal democracies have a moral duty to economically sabotage authoritarian governments.” [Round 4 livestream:]

The break announcement, where the teams that “break” into the direct elimination portion of the tournament, occurred after round 4. The top breaking teams were two undefeated powerhouses that would go on to eventually meet in the Grand Final – Betch and guess who.

The break round motions were:

  • “This house believes that altruists should pursue occupations where they can earn-to-give over directly working in charities to solve social problems” for the quarterfinals round.
  • “This house prefers the narrative of ‘every body is beautiful’ over ‘beauty doesn’t matter’” for the semifinals round.
  • “Assuming the option exists, this house would choose to move and accept citizenship in the Other State over citizenship in your own state” for the Grand Final round. In this motion, the Other State was defined as an unnamed nation that was economically, militarily, and diplomatically superior, denies the existence of your state, and would react violently if your state declared independence, while the debaters had to take the perspective of a citizen that believed their state deserved independence. [Grand Final:]

The tournament ended with an awards ceremony where Enzo Wu of Betch took the prize of Best Overall Speaker, Janet Chuang from Overcooked won the prize of Best Junior Overall Speaker, Johan Wong from Chingshin Academy was named Best Overall Judge, team Uwu won the trophy for Junior Champion with Sarah Lin winning Junior Grand Final Best Speaker, and the undefeated guess who team won the trophy for Open Grand Champion, with Valerie Huang winning the prize of Open Grand Final Best Speaker. [Awards Ceremony:]

Members of the NCCU community also participated in this event. Department of English lecturer Michael Cheng, who co-organized the tournament, was named one of the Top 10 tournament judges. A number of his recent debate students, 陳秉昇, 李思妤, 宋雨珊, and 吳絜以also gained experience as trainee judges during the tournament. Department of English graduate student Carolyn Wu also scored at the top of the judging rankings but was unable to judge enough rounds to qualify for one of the judging awards.

Discussing the tournament after its conclusion, tournament convener Jeff Tsai of Speechcraft and Chief Adjudicator Daryl Isla thanked the university for hosting the event and noted how smoothly the tournament went and how impressed many of the parents were by the facilities provided by NCCU and the beauty and serenity of the campus overall. NCCU’s Michael Cheng felt that the tournament succeeded in the mission of creating another opportunity for students as young as 5th grade primary school students to come and test out their English in a live unscripted real-world context, while also being able to hone their critical thinking skills. He also enjoyed showing off his university to so many of the top high school students in Taiwan and their parents.