Leadership & People
Impactful stories
December 22, 2020

Act, The Floor is Yours!

It's been a year since I had the pleasure to begin this amazing journey of leading a student-run organization focused on debating. Before moving on, now is the time to reflect on what we accomplished and what failed to deliver.

Having had the opportunity not only to foster discussion within our Nova School of Business & Economics but also to broaden our horizon with the creation of both NOVA Law School and NOVA Medical School was one of our most proud achievements.

Just like in any other organization, we had our ups and downs. And we learned from them. For instance, we had established the goal of rebuilding our official website and provide our members with volunteering and teambuilding activities every semester — and we failed in doing so. On the other hand, we were sharp enough to completely adapt and conduct more than ten live debates with an average attendance of 45 people and an average of 200 people watching the debates once they were published. They all remain available on our YouTube channel.

In my humble opinion, in addition to developing specific technical skills, universities have the complex (yet exciting!) mission of encouraging critical and independent thinking, while helping to raise responsible individuals that can give back to their communities.

At Nova Debate, our main goal has always been (since our foundation back in 2011) to stimulate interdisciplinary discussion within academia — in close contact with people coming out of it. That´s why we invited people from diverse backgrounds and with distinct ideas to discuss the topics we believe challenge our days. Subjects like the Future of Education, Vegetarianism and the Environment, Death Penalty, Media and Democracy, The Labor Market and

Inequality, Religion, Mental Health, Youth Empowerment, the Prison System, and the Relationship between Culture and the Government were some of them.

However, that’s not the only reason that justifies our existence. We discussed more topics than the ones I just mentioned, but there are many others we did not, such as Climate Change, Populism, Healthcare systems, Universal Basic Income and Sustainable Capitalism — to name a few.

I am sure Nova Debate will continue to do so by combining the best of the two worlds we have just been forced to discover: digital and face to face. Currently, the first one is still the safest, but things are getting back on track and, once they all are even more normal, I honestly hope we aren’t’ left only with Facebook and that we still value one-to-one, fact-based and disruptive discussions.

Omnis Civitas Contra se Divisa non stabit is the moto commanding our alma mater. It literally means that every city divided against itself will vanish. That is exactly what we, at Nova Debate, embraced over the last term and what we should always aim at, especially in times like the ones we are going through now.

So far, COVID-19 has an overall casualty rate close to 6,5 % (on May 21, at 5.30 pm). According to Paolo Gentiloni (former Italian Prime Minister and current European Commissioner for the Economy), “Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression.” However, those suffering the biggest impact will be — as always — those who are more vulnerable, either financially or socially. Especially for them, we need to make sure we do something and let them be heard so that we all act accordingly, particularly people with real power on their hands.

More than ever, we need to discuss and be open-minded; to hear what others think but also state our beliefs out loud; to stay loyal to our values, whilst being able to change our ideas; to contribute to a truthfully informed society and to reject any attempt to challenge it strongly. And — more importantly — to effectively do something that shapes our future goals as Humanity: a notion that should have a priority over countries, races, gender, or any other characteristic that for sure is not heavier than that of being Human.

As far as “this House” (one I will always belong to) is concerned, we believe that now — more than ever — you must Act, The Floor is Yours!

Rodrigo Melo

BSc. student in Economics at Nova SBE and in Law at Nova Law School. Former leader of Nova Debate Club (Nova SBE, NOVA Law, and NOVA Medical School)

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