Scandal and strike threats at World University Debating Competition

© Henrik Maedler / Chennai WUDC 2014

James Wilson

Staff Writer

A strike proposed by judges at this year’s scandal-heavy World University Debating Competition (WUDC) in Chennai, India has been called off. Judges had threatened to pull out of the competition as a result of the organising committee’s failure to pay their travel expenses.

After an acrimonious first few days to the competition – which began on December 29th – judging representatives announced that, unless they were paid by 7pm on New Year’s Eve, the judges and tab team (who record the points awarded to speakers) would go on strike. A number of the parties involved in the dispute were in Chennai representing Trinity College.

One representative from the University Historical Society (Hist) wrote in a Facebook status that, “Failure to refund these judges doesn’t just unfairly jeopardise their personal financial security, but also the ability of any future international tournament to attract good judges with the promise of funding.”

A number of the senior judges had refused to cross the picket line until every single judge had been reimbursed their promised expenses. Participants were offered payment in rupees – which cannot leave the country or be converted to euro – but declined. It is understood that participants were eventually paid off with euros in cash on New Year’s Eve.

However, rumours that some, or all, of the Pakistani debaters participating in the competition were facing deportation until a last-minute intervention by a high-ranking Indian policeman whose son is participating in the competition continue to swirl.

In addition, it has been reported that not enough hotels rooms had been booked, resulting in some debaters having to sleep on the floor for two nights, whilst others were said to have been put up overnight in a hotel over 50km away from Chennai.

Other Irish debaters have also complained that the socials organised for them finished too early and were unhappy that the events held on the first three nights took place in theme park which one competitor claimed has “the highest number of deaths per year in the world.”

The competition continues.