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St Michael’s Student Tops in Debating

Joanna Nairn (SMC 0T6) returned from Dublin in December as half of the championship team in international intercollegiate debating. Competing against 324 teams from forty countries Joanna and her team partner Michael Koterly (UT Law) defeated teams from Yale, the University of Chicago, and Inner Temple ( Law, UK), on the topic: “Be it resolved that animal cruelty laws be abolished.” Taking the negative side of the question Joanna and Michael prevailed in this four-way championship round. This was just one more accolade in Joanna’s stellar debating career, through the Hart House Debates Club. She has won the Canadian University tournament (for UofT), was judged best speaker at the Cambridge tournament, which was also won by her team, and placed in the top three speakers, as a member of UofT’s semifinal team, at the Oxford tournament.

Debating appears to have been a passion with Joanna since elementary school. Having attended St. Margaret’s and St. Benedict’s schools in Cambridge, (the section formerly known as Galt), Ontario, Joanna began her debating career arguing the case of Catholic school funding in Ontario. She started debating clubs in her schools and eventually won debating honours, locally and provincially. One of the great attractions of St Michael’s and the University of Toronto was the strong tradition of these institutions in intercollegiate debating. She has served as President of the Hart House Debating Club and has won many awards at international tournaments and at the Canadian intercollegiate debating championships (CUSID).

Currently enrolled as an honours student in Political Science, Joanna has focused her academic work on issues germane to equality and politics and the relationship between sexuality, ethnicity, and politics. Upon graduation in June she hopes to begin the study of law. Knowing that Canada’s law schools have their own debating societies, one might suspect that Joanna’s career as one of Canada’s top flight debaters has only just begun. St Michael’s is very proud of Joanna’s many accomplishments!

April 21, 2006