UCD student at centre of racism controversy in World Debating Finals

The UCD student called a black participant “useless”

A student from University College Dublin (UCD) is at the centre of a controversy concerning racism at the World Universities Debating Championships final which is taking place this weekend in Cape Town, South Africa.

Protesters occupied the open final of the competition following the sharing of a WhatsApp message on social media, which was sent by the UCD student, where the student called a black participant “useless”. The student is the head of the tabulation team at the competition.

A live stream video published on social media shows protesters discussing the mistreatment of black debaters in global debating competitions, as well as singing and dancing on stage.

Participants in the open final were moved from the area over half an hour after receiving the debate motion. The final was then relocated to a private room.

Another member of the tabulation team, along with members of the organising committee, later spoke to protesters to issue an apology. The member of the tabulation team issuing the apology stated the team noted that “there was a concrete case of disrespectful behaviour” which was part of “broader patterns” of such behaviour. He added that the incident occurred “in light of a stressful environment”, sparking outcry from the audience.

Teams in the final comprised of students from Cornell University, the University of Zagreb, and two teams from the University of Sydney.

Trinity’s Historical Society (the Hist) and Philosophical Society (the Phil) each entered two teams in the competition, with four Hist speakers and four Phil speakers representing their respective societies. Each society also entered one member in the competition as an adjudicator.

A team from UCD’s Literary and Historical Society (UCD L&H) was the furthest-progressing Irish team in the competition, reaching the semi-finals to debate the motion: “This House would impose a narrow banking regulation.”

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.