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Dhaka Tribune

Clubroom 7015: How a small classroom ended up giving Bangladesh an international presence

Story of ‘IUB Debating Club’ making it big

Update : 20 Sep 2018, 05:14 PM

Independent University Bangladesh Debating Club, abbreviated ‘IUBDC,’ has earned quite a reputation for having a lot of its alumni getting prestigious jobs at big multinational companies. But its achievements are far more than that. IUBDC has earned more credit than any university club can dream of. It has garnered praise for its debating successes, but also went onto grow out of its club status and created a brand by organizing its own annual international event.

Achievements as a debating club

On the debating front, IUBDC has won national championships at various prestigious and competitive tournaments held within the debating circuit in the country. It has won championship at IUT Professionals, a tournament held at Islamic University of Technology. IUBDC has won in BRAC Inter-Varsity National Tournament, BRAC Genders and in BRAC Masters, the last of which is a competition for who are considered to have mastered the art of debate. One of the former club presidents has won a tournament at Derozio Memorial University in India. In every major tournament the club has had at least one team that reached the final. However, its crowning glory came in the current year when IUBDC won the United Asian Debating Championship held at Bandung, Indonesia. 

Inception of IUBDC

IUBDC, like most student debating clubs, started with no clubroom allotted to it. It was founded in 2003 and faced its share of challenges for surviving. It got its first clubroom, which was actually  a classroom in 2013. Started from the humble beginning at ‘classroom 7015’, in 2018 IUBDC members have a second and proper clubroom behind the auditorium of IUB, and access to all university resources and facilities during the special events they organize. The official Facebook group has more than 1000 members which represents almost two generation worth of students. At any given time the chat thread for communication within the club members has more than 100 members. From being just a university club, it has become a thriving community.

“IUBDC is a platform for IUB students to nurture their potential and to be the next generation leaders, change makers, and thought provokers. Even if it is a club which is meant to be about speaking skills, learning argumentation and presenting your ideas in articulated ways, the core definition is to challenge every narrative there is, and not settling for anything less than the best and not blindly accepting conventions or values just because they happen to exist. The whole idea is to be curious about learning more and keep on challenging your own boundaries, to become more and more tolerant about the whole world around you,” said former club president Sajid Safwan. 

IUBDC alumni

Notable Alumni from IUBDC includes Hashmi Rafsanjani, who went onto become the youngest Country Marketing Consultant for Google; Fardeen Ameen currently a Content Manager in Grameenphone Ltd and the President of the Bangladesh Debating Council, Christopher Sangma who became a Product Manager at Grameenphone Ltd and Azim Ahmed a Marketing Manager at Bkash Ltd.

Beyond corporates, the critical thinking nourished at IUBDC also led former members to flourish in academia. Tanvir Ahmed Haroon, a former member, became a lecturer at IUB. Other successful alumni include Eriko Sultana, Adnan Qader, Tanzia Amreen and Saniat Chowdhury who went onto pursue PhDs andadvanced masters degrees at The University of Nottingham, University of Waterloo, Monash University Australia and University of Rochester respectively.

Recent and upcoming projects

The most remarkable, certainly most visible, achievement of IUBDC is undoubtedly the inception of Ascension, an international debating program the club organizes. It is the flagship debating event of IUBDC and quickly became the most coveted debating event in the country. 

What Ascension gives to its participants is not just a debating experience, but something much more profound. Ascension aims to provide an “experience of a lifetime”, and over the last two years it has delivered on that promise by making the event a national and international go-to program for debaters and aficionados. 

Aside from Ascension, IUBDC also organizes open debating tournaments such as IUB Wordplay, BDC ProAms or adjudicator workshops. Aside from debating events, IUBDC regularly organizes  networking opportunities for IUB students and corporate executives through various workshops, conferences and seminars. Since 2016, Ascension became the grand finale for the year-long events. 

Almost all former members that went onto work in big organizations, credit their time at the club for their current success. The alumni in turn becomes great contact points for the current students who are looking to get jobs after their university ends. The networking is so powerful that Ascension 2018 promised internships at the topmost corporations present in the country to the best organizers of the event this year.

“Ascension is the dream come true for students in the Bangladeshi debating circuit. It has become the pioneering event that everyone now looks to follow. I am glad that I am part of this tremendous project.” said Mushfiquz Zaman, one of the co-conveners of Ascension 2018. 

Currently being held at IUB, Ascension 2018 is featuring a chief adjudication core consisting of members who are considered to be debating legends in the greater international debating fraternity. Last year Ascension hosted debaters from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. This year there will be even more international participants. 

As the event garners more and more accolades and making debating as lucrative as any international athletic events, the people associated with all the success still remembers the small makeshift club room where it all began: Clubroom 7015. “For me the room represents an unending desire to do the best we can to uphold the spirit of speech and self-development,” said Zubair Ridoan, the current IUBDC president.

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