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British Invasion inside Hendricks

British debaters Sion Owen and Kenneth Fleming confer during their UCM debate.

Debaters Sion Owen, left, and Kenneth Fleming came to UCM as part of a U.S. tour.

Despite delighting a campus audience with often humorous comments and a strong stage command, a British debate team was defeated by UCM’s squad in Hendricks Hall this fall. 

Sion Owen, a recent graduate of Oxford University in England, and Kenneth Fleming, a graduate of Glasgow University in Scotland, came to UCM as part of a 26-school U.S. tour. The two are considered the top debaters in the English Speaking Union, representing all collegiate debate unions in England, Scotland and Wales.

Taking the affirmative side, they squared off against UCM students Melissa Riley and Michael Bailey on the issue, "This House: believes that the United States should refrain from intervention in sovereign nations." Riley, a senior from Washington, MO, majoring in journalism, has represented the university twice at the Montgomery Cup Debate Exhibition Tour of the British Isles. Bailey is a senior political science major from Blue Springs.

Audience reaction decided the debate, favoring the UCM opposition’s stance that intervention is often necessary for humanitarian reasons. Going into the event, participants were excited about the opportunity to treat a local audience to a lively evening of discussion. They knew, for some, it was the first opportunity to see such a debate.

"I think awareness is the thing I want the audience to get from this the most," Riley said. "We are hoping that the audience will get an idea about other concepts, other beliefs and views that they might not have heard otherwise."

Her opponent, Fleming, added, "Debating in general is to entertain and to be intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking. So, I hope this debate will ask people to consider America’s place in the world and what it means."

No debate about it -- judging from audience reaction -- both teams achieved these goals.