Students of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Friday, debated on whether race is a genetic or social concept.
The debate, which held at the auditorium of the Robert Pastor Library, featured two teams of four students each, with each student given five minutes to convince the audience and judges of their stance.
One speaker from each of the teams was then allowed to return to the stage and deliver their closing argument.
Each team was coached by a faculty member, thus while Dr. Hayatu Raji, chair of the Natural and Environmental Science program, coached the genetics team, Dr. Gado Alzouma, professor of Sociology and Anthropology, coached the social team.
Members of the genetics team were Marilyn Elechi, Reuben Ikape, Christiana Okere, and Victory Inyang, and the social team included Abdulmalik Garba, Said Adam, Yasmin Abdulkadir, and Ebenezer Dariye.
The genetics team argued that while racism is a social concept, race can be traced to genetics.
“In biology, we know that your physical appearance is determined by your genetic makeup,” Ikape argued.
The genetics team also cited things like genetic susceptibility of specific races to specific diseases and personalized drugs made for specific races to prove their point.
On the other hand, the social team argued that race has no genetic or biological basis and is just a social construct.
“Race is being used to divide society; people should be able to identify what they want,” Miss Abdulkadir argued.
The team emphasized that people are essentially the same and that race is only a thing of the mind.
The students were judged on their organization and clarity, use of arguments, and use of cross-examination and rebuttal.
The panel of judges comprised two faculty members from the sciences, namely, Dr. Charles Reith and Dr. Jennifer Tyndall, and two faculty members from the arts: Mrs. Emilienne Akpan and Dr. Brian Reed.
After two rounds of compelling arguments, the genetics team emerged victorious, narrowly winning the social team by less than 2 points.
At the end of the debate, the AUN Honor Society, AUNHS, organizers of the event, awarded both teams certificates of participation and gave the winning team a cash prize of N20,000.
AUN alumna, Miss Abo-Ojo Atabo, who was at the event, commended the Honor Society for organizing the event and described the arguments presented as scholarly and of good quality.
She also noted that the debate was as topical as it was impactful.
“I thought it was a very relevant topic, and even from the reaction of the audience, it’s actually something that we are all very passionate about.”
The AUN Assistant Vice President for Digital Services and Chief Information Officer, Mr. Julius Ayuktabe, and the Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs and Provost, Byron Bullock, were among the crowd of faculty, staff and students that witnessed the event.
By Zamiyat Abubakar