Oak Bay High students fight to compete again

Error attributed to staff almost silences debaters

Debate will rage on for two Oak Bay High school students.

Sarah Broitman and Rory Hills were disqualified from the Canadian Senior Nationals Debate Championships after the school failed to pay a membership fee to the non-profit Debate and Speech Association of B.C.

Late last week, the disqualification was reversed and the two will be allowed at the competition.

Oak Bay High principal Dave Thomson said the girls were in no danger of missing nationals.

“The debate was basically a non-issue once people talked,” Thomson said. “Our coach had missed paying one of the fees. The DSABC didn’t want the kids to miss (it) so they worked with us on a solution.”

The school and association agreed the requirements for membership were not met by the school, due to human error by the school.

In a statement from its board, the association said numerous reminders were sent to the school and the team was allowed to participate in regional tournaments, because “coaches confirmed that payment had been submitted.” However, payment was never received.

“From the outset, everyone involved has been uncomfortable with the ultimate consequence that deserving students would lose out on an opportunity to represent their province and hone their debate skills at a national level,” the board statement continued.

Broitman, 17, and Hills, 18, placed fifth in the provincial debate championships held between Feb. 28 and March 1.

The top five advance to nationals, which will be held April 11 to 13 in Winnipeg.

After disqualification, Broitman posted a six-minute video on YouTube to persuade the association to advance her and Hill. By March 17, the video had been viewed 3,000 times.

This is the second time this month that Oak Bay High students were disqualified due to staff error. The junior girls basketball team was disqualified from playing in provincials due to errors and late registration. The team was allowed to play after issuing a letter taking formal responsibility for the error and paid a $500 fine.

Calls to DSABC president Lindsay Spencer were not returned by press time.

 

 

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