And The Winner Is…

Congratulations to Keara, who on Sunday became the first student to hold the Great ORA Debate trophy!
As dusk fell on the cobbled streets outside the Sheldonian Theatre, four ORA students representing their respective 16-18 campuses were nervously running over the finer points of their speeches as they prepared to address an assembled audience of over 600 fellow students. This is the first year that we have run the Great ORA Debate, and an unprecedented number of  budding public speakers entered our rigorous selection process to represent their campus at one of the Summer School’s most prestigious events.
We were also delighted to welcome prominent human rights activist and former director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, to open proceedings as our guest speaker. The topic for the evening – “‘Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear’; are we living in a surveillance society?” – was a highly relevant one, and something with which all speakers engaged thoroughly.

Students from all four of our 16-18 campuses – Yarnton, Balliol, St Catherine’s, and Queen’s – packed out the historic auditorium, along with counsellors, summer staff, and representatives from ORA’s Head Office. Our four student speakers enjoyed a photoshoot with Shami Chakrabarti and Programme Director Julia Abbott before preparing to take to the stage.

After a brief welcome from Julia, Shami Chakrabarti was first to take to the floor. Her impassioned defence of personal privacy – both at home and online – was met with rapturous applause by the audience.

Our first student speaker was Stefania from Iceland, studying Law School Preparation in Yarnton Manor. She drew on her own experiences in both Iceland and Russia to illustrate different countries’ differing approaches to the matter of human rights.

Next up was Rhea from Canada but living in Saudi Arabia, studying the Oxford Enterprise Programme in Balliol. She vehemently defended privacy as a basic human right.

Our third speaker was Keara from South Africa, studying Broadening Horizons in Queen’s. She referenced Plato’s Timaeus as representative of the struggle to create a world free from exploitation.

Finally we heard from Aleksander from Poland, studying Engineering Preparation in St. Catherine’s. Aleksander discussed the pertinent issue of cyber security, and the risk our privacy faces in light of increasingly invasive technology.

After much applause and a Q&A session from the audience, Keara was declared the winner of the Great ORA Debate 2016! Shami was immensely impressed by all four students – especially those who were not speaking in their native language – but was ultimately won over by Keara’s strong research, compelling argument, and judicious use of humour in getting her argument across.
We would like to offer our congratulations and thanks to all four student speakers, for stepping up to the lectern and delivering their speeches with all the maturity, consideration, and confidence that we value in an ORA student. There has already been talk of hosting similar events for other sessions and age groups in 2017, so watch this space!
Click here to browse our full list of summer programmes for all ages ➙