29 July 2022 HWS Ranks Among Top 5 in US at World Universities Debating Championships

Sreyan Kanungo ’23 and Sarim Karim ’22 debated their way into the elite single-elimination rounds at the World Universities Debating Championship, placing in the top 5 of U.S. teams and becoming the highest ranked liberal arts college.

At the 2022 World Universities Debating Championships, Sreyan Kanungo ’23 and Sarim Karim ’22 out-performed the competition - earning enough points to compete in the finals round against the best teams in the world. The “World Cup” of debate tournaments, Kanungo and Karim’s performance distinguishes them as among the top debaters in the world.

Only four other teams in the U.S. made it as far as Kanungo and Karim, including Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Cornell Universities. HWS was the highest ranked liberal arts college at the tournament.

This year’s Worlds was one of the largest in the competition’s history, with 381 teams competing. As the tournament goes on, teams are power-matched. The better a team performs, the more challenging their competition becomes. Three days into the tournament and after six preliminary rounds, Kanungo and Karim were tied for fourth place.

Novice team Kayla Powers ’24 and Velocity Lopolito ’24 also competed. HWS Debate Head Coach and Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes says their debut shines a bright light on the future of the program.

Kanungo and Karim’s accomplishment solidifies their place in HWS Debate history. Their performance is the best HWS Debate outcome in the past 10 years. In 2012, Gerald “Buzz” Klinger ’12 and Will McConnell ’12 finished 21st in the world at the Manila tournament.

“’Breaking’ into elimination rounds is a huge honor in itself,” Barnes says, “Which HWS has only done once in the open division.”

For the second year in a row, the 2022 tournament was held virtually. The event was slated to take place in Belgrade and was therefore hosted on Central European Time. For HWS debaters, that meant debating at odd times in the middle of the night or the early morning.

Kayla and Tayla

Kayla and Tayla pose for a photo with their plaque following the 2022 Colgate Open.

HWS Debate had an epic 2021-2022 season. Most recently, Kanungo and Karim were the champions of the Annual Huber Debate 2022, hosted by the University of Vermont. There, Kiera Toussaint ’25 and Jaheim Pierre ’25 earned a spot in the Novice Finals and Tayla Rossi ’24 ranked as the 3rd Best Novice Debater of the tournament.

During the penultimate debate of the academic year, Kayla Powers ’24 and Tayla Rossi ’24 make it to the Grand Finals of the Colgate University Debate Open 2022. They defeated the likes of Harvard University, Cornell University and the University of Toronto.

Read more about HWS Debate’s accomplishments.