26 April 2019 • Renske Kaldewaij
‘PVV’ wins the debate competition between Communication students
Can you put yourself in the position of a political party that doesn’t represent your opinion? That was one of the challenges for the Communication students who participated in the Theo Loeffen debate competition. The winner was the rhetorically strong Jakob Nusse.
In the study block ‘Going to the Polls’ students develop a campaign strategy for a national political party. On April 11, they completed the block with a debate competition. Based on the ideologies of ‘their’ party, the student groups develop positions they need to convince each other of in the debate.
The goal of the study block is to teach students to think based on the core values of the organisation, even if it isn’t their organisation. Students also learn to formulate opinions based on arguments and respectfully anticipate other points of view. A sense of humour also doesn’t hurt, according to Nicole Heijdra, lecturer Public Communication. “The issues are serious, but there is certainly room for a joke and a laugh.”
A great act
During the debate on Thursday April 11, the statements expressed by students didn’t necessarily reflect their own opinions, but those of the party they were representing. A challenge that was successfully tackled by all debaters. ‘Spokesperson’ Guus de Kock beautifully defended the core values of the Socialist Party in his argument to cut tuition fees in half for all years: “We shouldn’t focus on the money, but instead focus on student health!” The four jury members of the debate competition and the ‘Members of Parliament’ in the room were very impressed with the acting skills of the various ‘spokespeople’.
In addition to learning the value of our democracy, students also experience the value of rhetoric and non-verbal communication. Inge Weel, Public Communication lecturer: “In a debate, what you say is just as important as the way in which you say it. If you touch people.” Charlotte van Lobenstein, ‘spokesperson’ of the Partij voor de Dieren, held a convincing plea against the implementation of a DNA profile database. She even pulled out the constitution. “According to Article 1 of the Constitution, each person has the right to the inviolability of their body. Let’s make sure we uphold this!”
After three exciting rounds and serious jury deliberations, the winner of the debate competition was announced. Thanks to his strong rhetorical statements, Jakob Nusse, who represented the PVV, took home the Theo Loeffen Debate Award. A beautiful prize for Nusse and a tribute to Theo Loeffen, the prematurely deceased lecturer of Public Communication with a great passion for politics and heated debates.
Afterwards, the students, jury and lecturers chatted informally at the Lighthouse Café. Mickey van Wijk, ‘spokesperson’ for GroenLinks in the debate, has completely changed her opinion on politics. ‘By applying our knowledge in practice, I learned a great deal from this subject. I never imagined myself working in politics, but this experience has certainly made it a lot more interesting to me.” Jury member and programme manager Ronald van Wijk: “This form of education is wonderful. It is hard to engage this age group. A setting like today’s draws a lot of attention. The participants learn and respect each other. This is a tribute to Theo Loeffen. He would have enjoyed this and would have been proud of his students!”
Jakob Nusse won the debate competition.