Family matters up for debate at annual dinner

Family matters up for debate at annual dinner

Award-winning academic and Old Elizabethan Mustafa Sarkar returned to QE for the 51st Annual Dinner Debate as a special guest.

In his toast to the Elizabethan Union, QE’s formal debating society, Mustafa (OE 1997–2004) emphasised the importance of luck – and, in particular, of making your own luck. A sports psychology specialist who last year gained his PhD from Loughborough University, Mustafa has won a number of awards for his work over the past few years, including, most recently, the British Psychological Society (BPS) Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP) PhD award for 2015.

Drawing upon his academic research, Mustafa offered his audience of Year 12 boys, guests and staff advice around a number of themes. These included: always saying ‘yes’ to opportunities when presented with them (and working out how to do something afterwards); turning adversity into advantage; listening to your inner voice and making good use of social support networks. In this last connection, he spoke about the importance of his family, including his wife.

After enjoying a three-course formal dinner in the Dining Hall, which featured Moroccan chicken tagine, the assembled company moved to the Shearly Hall for the debate. This pits two old boys of the School against two current pupils.

Proposing this year’s motion, This House believes that marriage is an outdated institution, were Year 12 boys Ché Applewhaite and Ridwan Uddin. They were opposed by Gabriel Gendler (OE 2007–2014) and Ethan Axelrod (OE 2007–2014), with Adrian Burbie, of Year 12, in the chair.

The QE proposition started with only 30 or so votes and there were a great many abstentions. At the end, there were no abstentions and Ché and Ridwan had increased their share to 45, while the OE opposition had also increased their share of the vote, but by a smaller amount. The swing is crucial in determining the result, so although in absolute terms more people voted against the motion, the two current pupils won the debate.

Head of Academic Enrichment, Nisha Mayer, said: “Both sides were enormously persuasive and some excellent oratorical skills were seen from all four speakers.

“The debate touched on the progressive nature of gay marriage, the comparative merits of civil partnership and the global context, including arranged marriages, as well as the nature of romantic relationships today defined by technological advances such as the Tinder dating application. The evening was a great success.”