Debaters are entertainers. They like to use their wit, humour, and all-too-often sarcasm to make their argument. At the MDU, we like to give our debaters a platform to perform to the Manchester student public. Public debates are held every Thursday at 5PM and they normally last for an hour and a half.
It is the duty of the Chair to provide thought-provoking and controversial motions. Debaters who participate in the public debates come in all levels. From novice debaters, experienced circuit-trained debaters, to guests invited from other societies and departments with little, if no, debating experience, but armed with specialist knowledge of the motion.
In 2011/12, the MDU welcomed speakers such as renowned political philosopher Professor Hillel Steiner, international marketing economist Peter Griffiths, and the Romanian Ambassador to the UK.
What do we debate about?
Our motions cover a wide range of topics. From matters of political and current affairs, to issues in medicine or personal, ethical dilemmas. Some are real, current issues, and others are controversial statements which allows us to showcase our persuasive, public speaking. We also have seasonal specials — last year, our Christmas motion was: “This house would liberate the elves”.
Debaters often have to play the role of the devil’s advocate. They have to discard their personal views and make an argument. MDU speakers participating in a debate will be assigned their positions in debates at random and will often have to debate in favour of a motion which conflicts their personal viewpoint. Part of the purpose of debating is to teach you how to perceive arguments from angles that you may not have previously considered, a benefit to any future profession and life in general.
Of course, we don’t just want our public debates to be about the speakers! If you’re brave or inquisitive enough, you can raise points to the speakers while they’re in the full-flow of their arguments. We also have an audience question time at the end of every debate where you can ask the speakers questions, and hopefully move the debate in unexpected directions.
The audience always have the last word with a vote on the motion: for, against, or abstain.