The students staying in Balliol College flooded into the stunning Sheldonian Theatre for ‘The Great ORA Debate’. Adjudicating the debate was Michael Duff, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, the perfect judge and host for the motion – ‘Scientific research must always have a commercial application’. Michael has also been a senior physicist at CERN in the Theory division, conducting pioneering research on supergravity. Each contestant was granted an eight-minute speaking time, followed by a four-minute rebuttal period where they could address points made by their opponents.
Four colleges participated; Cong Minh Nguyen was the Balliol College representative, battling against the motion alongside St Catherine’s College against Queen’s College and Yarnton Manor. Bob Barnes, Programme Director at St Peters College and chairman of the debate gave a warm introduction to Cong Minh as he took the stage. The Balliol students supported in wild applause and cheering as he took the stand, before listening intently to his eight-minute speech. Cong Minh spoke with statesmanlike authority and confidence, intently holding the audience’s attention. He dealt with rebuttals calmly and in a professional manner, making for a great team effort with St Catherine’s.
All participants performed brilliantly, leaving Michael with an exceedingly tough decision. After some deliberation, he declared the battle against the motion victorious, with the best speaker prize going to Laura Jane Baxter from St Catherine’s College.