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British National Debate Team Invades Santa Monica College

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By Lookout Staff

September 21, 2015 -- The British are coming -- to talk this time, not fight. Members of the English-Speaking Union’s 2015 British National Debate Team will square off against the Santa Monica College Debate Team in what will be SMC's first international debate tournament, college officials announced last week

The teams will debate the question, “Is Gender Equity Possible?” during a free event open to the public on Tuesday, September 29, in the Main Stage at the SMC Theatre Arts Complex, 1900 Pico Boulevard, at 11:15 a.m.

“It is a great honor for SMC to host the British Debate Team and to be part of this long tradition of international debate and discussion,” said Nate Brown, an SMC communications professor. “I am confident that SMC --  even as a community college -- will eventually be a regular competitor at international tournaments.”

The hometown favorites will have their hands full going against the two British team members, who have debating championships under their belts. Started in 1922 by the English-Speaking Union, the British National Debate Tour sends a two-person team of British students to the United States each year to debate at colleges and universities across the nation, said Grace Smith, SMC's spokesperson.

Brown said his team isn't intimidated.

“We are proud to be SMC, and proud to face such accomplished debaters,” he said.

The format will be the parliamentary-style debate, which pits opponents two against two. Each speaker has a specific amount of time to speak, but can be interrupted by the opposing team.

Audience members will be able to chime in their preferences throughout the debate using on their smart phones or electronic devices. The audience will also be able to vote for a winning team, said Smith.

British National Debate Team members Chessy Whalen and Matthew Willmore will go head-to-head against SMC Debate Team members Filipp Krasovsky and Stephen Sands.

Whalen recently completed a bachelor's degree in history at Balliol College Oxford. She was an active member of the Oxford Union Debating Society and was a quarter finalist at the 2015 European Championships in Vienna.

Willmore works as a debating coach and judge and won the 2014 European Championships. He has also taught at universities in the United Kingdom, France and the United States.         

Krasovsky is in his second year at Santa Monica College. The son of Russian immigrants who escaped Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he placed 11th in California for congressional debate and has won 35 other awards in public speaking, said Smith.

Sands is also in his second year at SMC, majoring in business administration. He competed in speech and debate tournaments for four years while attending Granada Hills High School, received first place as best speaker in a competition at James Monroe High School in North Hills and advanced to the finals at Duke University’s Duke Moot Court International Debate Competition.

For more information, call 310-434-8781.

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