THE national debating champions at Wits are gearing up for greater residence participation.

Last year, the Wits Debating Union (WDU) took first place at the national championships held at the University of Pretoria.

“We don’t want more residence students necessarily but we just want more residence participation,” says the head of the union, Leon Mithi.

The 2nd year law student says, “Debating is an important activity and social experience, it’s important for a democratic society.”

The union held a tournament between first year students as a way of making them feel included, says Mithi.

“We had a pilot tournament with a few prizes, like allocating R1000 to [the winner’s] fees.”

Thando Yende, a 2nd year LLB student, and the organiser of the residence tournaments, believes these tournaments have an important function. “We involve [students] in debating and public speaking so that they can have confidence in themselves.”

Sechaba Motseki, a 1st year medicine student found out about the society through residence house committee.

“It’s a challenge,” he says. “But it’s interesting. I’ve done public speaking before, and I think debate can help with my course.”

Mithi says this is the union’s intention. “We are going to start having [sessions] during lunchtime, so that we can include medical students, and students from other campuses. It’s important to expose everyone to it.”

Currently the WDU meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“On Tuesdays we do training- to improve skills and logic and on Thursdays we have practice debates,” says Mithi.

The union meets in Senate House basement room 2, from 6pm. Mithi says they are looking for all kinds of students to join, whether they are familiar with debating or not.

“People don’t realise how debating adds to your CV,” he says. “It makes you different and says you’re a different kind of person.”

WDU have been the national champions for two years in a row.