Thursday, 19 October 2017

Mission

The Center is a staunch believer in discussion and self-expression as a means to building interactive and multi-dimensional human beings who accumulate skills that help in the constant quest for justice and freedom. Pivotal to the Center’s concerns and aspirations are the promotion of critical thought as well as the encouragement of peaceful discussion, dialogue, freedom of expression, diversity and respect of ideas and opinions, amongst young Palestinian adults in order to stimulate and implement social, cultural and political awareness, development and change within the Palestinian community.

The SVB’s mission, in the creation of a Debate Forum, is to enrich the democratic environment in the university, rehabilitate the mind to address differences and contradictions within society without resorting to repression or violence and to sharpen students’ ability to argue through enhancing their skills in reading, analyzing and critical thinking.

Debating History on Campus

Debating has always been a popular activity amongst students at university campuses in the OPT. The topics of debate, in the majority of cases, have been political in nature. Regrettably, however, in many cases of university debates there was a lot of animosity and antagonism between the two debating parties resulting, in one instance in 2007, in arguments and fighting. Instead of the debates being a forum for a peaceful exchange of views on a chosen subject, they became sparring matches with each party demonizing the other.

In response to the negative debate experiences and in particular the events of 2007, the SVB considered it necessary to intervene to set up a structured Debate Forum at the university with the aim to provide a disciplined arena for the healthy and democratic exchange of opposing opinions and ideas in an amicable and non belligerent environment.

In collaboration with the SVB, the Center initiated discussions with Al-Quds University in 2008 and 3 years later, in May 2011, the first Debate Forum event was launched.

Organization

The Center developed three categories of debates within the Debate Forum, namely:

  • A Student Debate: students confront students (3 in each team)
  • A Specialist Debate:  intellectuals, academics, scholar, researcher from within or outside the university, writers or politicians are the debating parties (2 speakers)
  • A Mixed Debate: students confront specialists

The organization of the Debate Forum is handled through 3 committees, namely:

  • Student Committee:  composed of a group of students with a keen interest and concern to promote democratic dialogue and freedom of opinion. Its mission is to develop the Debate Forum, organize the debates from A to Z, oversee the functioning of the debates, etc.
  • Steering Committee:  composed of academic staff and a student representative from the Student Committee. Its mission is to give the Debate Forum the space and vision inside the university.
  • Referee committee: composed of 3 alternating members chosen by the Steering Committee from within or outside the university and who are experts on the chosen debate topic. Its mission is to evaluate the performance of the two debate teams by comparative standards and decide on the winner of the debate.

Apart from the two debating parties and the Referee Committee, the fourth party involved in the debate is the Moderator. This role is attributed to a professional or well-known personality who is adept at running debates, is assertive and commands respect as timing is of the essence.