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Debate Union finishes among top teams at world championship

January 15, 2019
two students pose for a portrait in front of a backdrop with the WUDC Cape Town 2019 logo

Warish Zaman Orko ’21, left, and Niki Linganur ’20 became the first-ever UR Debate Union duo to reach the top 32 at the World Universities Debating Championships. (University Athletics photo)

At the end of December, the University of Rochester’s Debate Union traveled across the Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa, to compete in the 2019 World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC)–the largest and most competitive intercollegiate debate competition in the world, featuring over 400 teams from more than 250 schools and 90 countries around the globe.

The Debate Union mastered a wide variety of topics and, in the end, Nikhila Linganur ’20 and Warish Zaman Orko ’21 finished in the “octo-finals” (top 8 percent) of the tournament field. In turn, the duo becomes the University’s first-ever team to advance to the break-out rounds at the World Championships.

The Debate Union is an open-door team that values bringing the experience of competitive debate to students who have never had it before. Linganur is one such student, having joined the Debate Union two-and-a-half years ago with no prior experience. Many of her competitors in Cape Town had been debating for eight or more years.

“Knowing that Niki is only in her third year of debate makes it all the more remarkable that this is the first time Rochester Debate has advanced this far at the most competitive tournament in the world,” says Brady Fletcher, the team’s director. “This should be a resounding call out to any interested UR student who has not yet explored debate or has had doubts about their abilities.”

The Debate Union has existed in one form or another since the founding of the University in 1850. They compete in regional, national, and international tournaments in two formats—policy format and world’s format— and have a total yearly roster of around fifty students.

The team will host the year’s regional opener for the world’s debate format, and the spring regional opener for the policy debate format, January 26–27 in Hutchison Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Contact Fletcher at for more information.


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Category: Student Life