Professors compete in Faculty Smackdown Debate

Teams debated hot button issues such as professor Paul Budra’s chili pepper rating on RateMyProfessors.

SFU’s third annual Faculty Smackdown Debate appealed to fans of smack talk and non-profit organizations alike, as professors battled it out in the SFU Theatre on Thursday, November 6.

Teams of professors were pitted against each other to debate high profile topics such as: “The frying pan is better than the fire,” and “Debates don’t actually resolve anything.”

The debaters were nominated by students, based on their sense of humour, ability to talk about anything, and spirit of volunteerism. Organizers received almost 300 nominations, but narrowed these down to four teams of three.

The debates included arguments about everything from firemen, sociopaths, and 4chan, to SFU professor of English Paul Budra’s chili pepper rating on RateMyProfessors.

Gwynne Roseborough, chair of SFU’s United Way Campaign and an organizer of the event, said, “[The professors are] such unique characters in themselves, it’s just so great to see a different side of them outside of classroom.”

A big fan of CBC Radio’s The Debaters, Roseborough wanted to use humour to encourage faculty, staff and students to engage with a more serious cause: United Way.

United Way acts as an umbrella organization, Roseborough explained. They partner with institutions like SFU to hold events and fundraise money, which is then distributed to local charity organizations. Roseborough said, “One of the nice things about the United Way is that the money goes back to the community we live and work in.”

United Way anti-poverty organizations are funded mainly by donations, and all proceeds from the Smackdown and partial proceeds from a Post-Smackdown Debrief at the Highland Pub were donated to the cause.

Roseborough applauded employee generosity in donating to United Way but said, “I think we can be even more generous.”

SFU’s partnership with United Way is about to enter uncharted territory, however, as this is Roseborough’s third and final year as chair. She said that a lot of SFU employees and long-time contributors will be retiring this year.

Roseborough hopes that events like the Smackdown — as well as upcoming events such as book and bake sales at the Burnaby and Harbour Centre campuses, and Market on the Mez at the Surrey campus — will help increase United Way’s profile on campus and make it easier for students and faculty to become involved.

“I’m trying to focus on a way that we can all give a little to give a lot,” Roseborough said.

The winning professors were presented with a garden “Gnome It All” trophy and the satisfaction of raising awareness for United Way. Audience applause was used to determine the winning teams, and came to the following conclusions about the debate topics: fire is better than frying pans and debates really do resolve something.