Matthew Gallagher and Connor Ahluwalia pose with their championship trophy.

Carleton students Matthew Gallagher and Connor Ahluwalia claimed first place at the North American Universities Debating Championship last weekend at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.

The pair defeated teams from Harvard, Yale and Stanford to bring home the trophy.

Ahluwalia is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Public Administration and Policy Management (BPAPM) program, while Gallagher is in his first year of a master’s in Political Management, having already graduated with his BPAPM.

The topic they debated? “This house believes that scholars who study under-represented groups in history should emphasize their contribution to events that are commonly considered historically significant, rather than studying the history of those groups’ contributions to their own societies.”

The team argued against the motion as the “closing opposition.” The competition uses the British Parliamentary debate format, which means there are four teams in the round of debate. There’s an opening government presentation as well as an opening opposition argument. That’s followed by the closing government and the closing opposition.

Their performance qualified them to attend the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Round Robin this spring.

“This [contest] is widely seen as the most exclusive English-speaking debating tournament in the world,” says Gallagher. “Only 16 teams are invited to attend. They are composed of the winners of the NAUDC, the European Universities Debating Championships (European equivalent to NAUDC), the four teams in the grand final of the World Universities Debating Championships, and a selection of invited teams with extraordinary debating accomplishments.