British Debaters Visit Truman While on Tour

For the third time this decade the National Debate Team of the United Kingdom will visit Truman as part of its annual tour of United States colleges and universities. 

They will challenge debaters from the Truman Forensic Union in an exhibition debate on the topic “Resolved: China represents more of a threat than an opportunity” at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 in the Ophelia Parrish Performance Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. 

The British recommended the topic, and they will affirm the resolution, as Truman’s debaters negate it.

The English Speaking Union in London selected the British debaters and the Committee for International Discussion and Debate (CIDD) of the National Communication Association is sponsoring the team. In total, the debaters are visiting 26 colleges, universities and high schools from mid-September to mid-November. Truman is one of three Missouri institutions the British will visit, including Washington University in St. Louis and Metropolitan Community College-Longview in Lee’s Summit.

The visiting debaters are Dan Bradley and Andrew Tuffin. As is customary in the United Kingdom, the debaters already hold graduate degrees.
Bradley, a former president of the Manchester Debating Union and the Northern and Midlands Debating Alliance, is in the process of submitting his thesis for a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Manchester. He previously held an internship on climate change policy at the Houses of Parliament. Bradley said he “took up university debating after I became fed up of losing arguments in pubs to a friend who was Convener of Debates at Glasgow University.” Over the course of his Ph.D. he competed in more than 75 competitions, reaching the semi-finals of the World University Debating Championships, and was one of the top 10 speakers at the European Championships. 

Andrew Tuffin is as an active debater on the European universities’ debating circuit. He received a Master of Arts in Philosophy from King’s College, London, and also read history as an undergraduate at the University of Manchester. He took up debating two years ago because a broken foot had made him “a pretty ineffective member of the university hockey team.” Since then he has won inter-varsity tournaments, picked up individual speaker awards, and acted as the Chief Adjudicator at competitions on the British university circuit. He is also involved in the English Speaking Union’s High School debate program, which endeavors to broaden students’ horizons, build their confidence and, as Tuffin puts it, “teach them how to talk back to their teachers without getting into too much trouble.” Tuffin has previously worked as a teacher in India and Nepal.

Junior political science major, Sarah Backhaus (Liberty, Mo.) and sophomore political science major, Christian Johns (Carthage, Mo.) will represent Truman. Backhaus has represented Truman at three consecutive national championship tournaments, and Johns reached the sweet sixteen of the national tournament as a freshman last season. Both are having highly successful seasons this year, and both have already secured qualifications to the national championships in April.

The visiting team is sponsored by Pi Kappa Delta, a National Forensics Honor Society, with financial support from the Funds Allotment Council. The Truman Institute and faculty of the Department of Communication have provided logistical support. For more information on the event, contact Kevin Minch at or 785.5384.  


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