University of Exeter Debating Society

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Exeter University Debating Society
University of Exeter Debating Society logo.png
Discordia Concordimus
Formation 1893
Type Student debating union
Headquarters Exeter
  • Amory Building, Exeter, EX4 4RJ
Alex Scott-Malden

The Exeter University Debating Society is a debating society founded in 1893 by the students of Exeter University. On the Exeter Campus it is informally known as DebSoc. it is the university's oldest society and is the largest political society on campus.

Early History[edit]

The Exeter University Debating Society was formed in 1893 as a purely gentleman's debating society. The earliest recorded Friday night debate was held on an 4 February 1906 entitled 'The advantages of being a member of a large family outweigh the disadvantages'. The student magazine stated the debate was held with 'eloquence, energy and enthusiasm'. Further controversial motions have included 'Should Bachelors be taxed' (1905) in which the opposition declared 'the whole scheme is set to be a man trap set by female ingenuity for female benefit'. The First World War proved difficult for the society with many of its members leaving to fight. A number of debates were still held however. These included 'Conscription is necessary for our Empire' (1915) and 'There should be no co-education of the sexes' (1916) in which one speaker famously remarked "that flirty girls give a man as much experience in an hour as he would gain in twelve months by watching girls a few yards off".

The Society today[edit]

The Debating Society week generally consists of two events a week. A Monday workshop is held for those who wish to practice their debating skills and prepare for competition. Every Friday evening at 7:00pm the society invites an external panel of four speakers to debate a motion. Friday night debates continue to be held in the mooting room of the Amory building which regularly attracts a full house of over 250 members of the audience. Recent speakers have included Members of Parliament Ben Bradshaw, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nick De-Bois and Steve Gilbert,[1] members of the European Parliament Graham Watson and Keith Taylor,[2] journalists Peter Hitchens[3] and Brendan O'Neill, anti war campaigner Lindsay German and Apprentice star Katie Hopkins

The society also provides an excellent environment for those wishing to take part in competitive debating. Aside from the weekly workshop, the society regularly attends competitions at home and abroad. Exeter University also holds a national IV in the second week of May. It also holds the Exeter internal IV - a prestigious debating competition among the university students.

The social highlights of the society remain the winter and spring balls, though a variety of other events also occur.

Administrative structure[edit]

The Union is run exclusively by a committee of 10 directly elected positions. These are: President, Vice President, Chairman, General Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Officer as well as two social secretaries, and two IV Co-ordinators. The committee serve for one academic year and are elected in the second week of March. The committee is joined in October by two representatives from the first year of Exeter Students. These are Freshers Representatives or Freps for short.

Former Presidents[edit]

  • 1990/91 A Hunter
  • 1991/92 A Wiseman
  • 1992/93 W Perrin
  • 1993/94 L Willcox
  • 1994/95 A Cook
  • 1995/96 C Pickard
  • 1996/97 E Morris
  • 1997/98 K Cruwys Harris
  • 1998/99 P Norsworthy
  • 1999/00 K Steenson
  • 2000/01 E Parr
  • 2001/02 W Purle
  • 2002/03 R Bjayou
  • 2003/04 O Hartwright
  • 2004/05 R Sampson
  • 2005/06 B James
  • 2006/07 O Parsons
  • 2007/08 D Scatcherd
  • 2008/09 R Stern
  • 2009/10 C Fullbrook
  • 2010/11 H Lloyd
  • 2011/12 B Jones
  • 2012/13 V Windsor
  • 2013/14 S Pepe
  • 2014/15 C Bitcon

Notable Alumni[edit]

  • Raef Bjayou - British entrepreneur and television presenter who was fired in week 9 during series four of The Apprentice
  • David Burrowes - MP for Enfield Southgate
  • Robert Halfon - MP for Harlow, Minister without Portfolio
  • Sajid Javid - MP for Bromsgrove, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Tim Montgomerie - British Conservative Party activist, blogger, and columnist and former comment editor for The Times
  • Jeremy Wright - MP for Kenilworth and Southam, the Attorney General for England and Wales, Advocate General for Northern Ireland

Notable Speakers[edit]

Current and Past Patrons[edit]


Since 2012 alumni of the Debating Society have supported two Scholarships of £2,000 every year. The scholarships are administered jointly by the English Speaking Union and Exeter University. The scholarships aim to support two students doing an undergraduate degree programme who can demonstrate a commitment to being involved in debating with the University's Debating Society.


External links[edit]