The Session 5 students staying in Queen’s College flocked to the Sheldonian Theatre for the Great ORA Debate. Adjudicating and hosting the debate was Michael Duff FRS FRSA, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London. Michael was also a senior physicist at CERN in the Theory Division. Such experience leads him to be the best possible mediator for a debate on the motion – ‘Scientific research must always have a commercial application’. 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 Oxford Colleges participated, Gleb Ivanov represented Queen’s, battling for the motion alongside Yarnton Manor against Balliol and St Catherine’s Colleges. Bob Barnes, Programme Director at St Peter’s College was the Chairman and welcomed Gleb to the stage with raucous applause and cheering. Queen’s students were sitting right at the front, having created banners and signs help demonstrate their support. Gleb provided a strong and expertly delivered case for the house, demonstrating incredible clarity and thought in his argument. Gleb concluded his argument with the closing statement; “Would you rather see scientific research sitting on the shelf, or out there being used by the people?” leaving the audience in deep thought.
The five hundred strong Sheldonian audience listened intently to all arguments, leaving Michael with an unenviable decision to make. Unfortunately for Gleb and Queen’s College, Laura Jane Baxter from St Catherine’s snatched a close victory, who provided a poignant speech and dealing with rebuttals in a remarkably expert manner.
Later on, evening activities went very well with students split between Zumba, filling the JCR with over 30 participants, and the university life panel where students were given direct advice on applying to English universities in a session where counsellors shared their experiences of writing personal statements at universities all over the country.