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Rory McKeown and Aaron Rousseau
Rory McKeown and Aaron Rousseau.

Not Just Black and White

U of T debaters were unbeatable at North American championships

It’s tough to get a straight answer from Rory McKeown about why he and debating partner Aaron Rousseau were unbeatable at this year’s North American Debating Championships, downing MIT in the final round. “Debaters will give you five reasons why they are very good and five reasons why they are not,” jokes McKeown, who has just completed a BA in English and German while attending University College.

Rousseau, a fourth-year Victoria College student who will finish an honours BA in peace and conflict studies next year, figures the key to their success is balance: he covers the pragmatic arguments, while McKeown handles the more idealistic statements of philosophy and principle. “Winning was not necessarily the best part,” says Rousseau of the tournament, held in February at McGill University. “The best part was seeing the overall dominance of U of T.”

Three out of four Hart House teams made it to the final 16, beating competitors from Harvard, Yale and more than 50 other schools. In addition to McKeown and Rousseau’s top North American honours, the title of first-place public speaker went to Victoria College’s Aidan Johnson, who has just completed an MA in French literature. Fourth-year Innis College student Daniel Bach was the second-place speaker overall.

The club is the most successful in the competition’s history, claiming the North American cup three times since 1992.

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