Project: Brunel Debate Society
Role: Society member, Vice-Chair, Chair
Details: Brunel Debate Society is a student-led society that endeavours to provide a space for freedom of speech, critical thought and social engagement on campus.
Joining as a member in my first year at Brunel in September 2014 I was a regular attending member of debates throughout the academic year, before deciding to run for the role of Chair in the Clubs and Societies Elections in the following March. Upon becoming Brunel Debate Society Chair my manifesto aims were to provide the society with much more of a presence on campus, to meet and debate on a more regular basis and to offer a broader range of debate styles to students.
When examining how I would endeavour to complete these aims and objectives I noted that two of them were intrinsically interconnected. By increasing the volume of debates the society runs it would, in turn, increase the society’s presence on campus through word of mouth and student involvement. Officially beginning my role of Chair in September 2015 I choose to increase society meetings from once a month to once a week at a minimum. This newly increased regularity was also accompanied by encouraging engagement with fellow societies and special events on campus, such as One World Week. In particular, an Inter-Society Debate between Brunel Debate Society and Brunel LGBT+ was extremely successful and publicised in the Union of Brunel Students newspaper Le Nurb, see here, all of this helping to increase the Society’s presence on campus.
Throughout my first year as a member of the society I noted that each debate had the exact same format: a ‘Parliamentary Style’ which is a very formal and competitive type of debate. It was in my opinion that this format was ineffective at involving as many students as possible, simply because the format excludes students who are not already confident speakers. Instead I endeavoured to re-brand the way Debate Society functions so that as many students as possible felt confident in taking part. Therefore, I created a three-week rota that changed the debate style from an extremely formal style to a very informal discussion style enabling students with a range of abilities to get involved. .
During my time as Chair I believe I was able to achieve my manifesto goals and improve the society as a whole. The experience of running Brunel Debate Society was a vital part of my University career, it is a project that I have gone on to refer to as ‘my baby’ because of the sheer commitment and passion I gave throughout the academic year. I feel that since running the society I have become a much more confident and self-assured person, know that I can step up to the task and achieve my goals no matter how big or small they are.
Awards and Achievements:
- Increase in number of debates from 9 in 2014/15 to 24 in 2015/16
- 15% membership increase in 2015/16 on the previous year
- Nominated for ‘Best Political, Campaigning, & Causes Society’ at Brunel Union of Students 2016 Society and Media Awards
Recommendations and Reviews:
‘I have found the debating society great for thought provoking engagement on current affairs that develops your ability to flexibly think, and publicily speak too! Very engaging, would recommend to everyone!’ – Scott Miller, BUL Building Manager
‘The Debate Society at Brunel has created a social place for anyone and everyone to share ideas, question the world and also improve public speaking skills. It’s an exciting and enjoyable society that’s really successful’ – Parika Pathak, 2nd Year Psychology
‘I found that the debate society is a community which I can share my opinions and challenge my existing opinions in an academic manor which is something I value greatly as they aren’t many other places in which I could do so and enjoy myself as well’ – Anonymous