Stefan Zweiker

Stefan Zweiker

As our convenor, Stefan has been leading our undertaking since the first time we put the words “Vienna” and “EUDC” together. The way he found his way into DKWien illustrates perfectly why we strive to promote debating in Austria through Vienna EUDC. He saw Debattierklub Wien mentioned in a national newspaper shortly after moving to Vienna, where he enrolled at university to study International Business and Law. And so, in autumn 2009, he joined the society shortly after hearing about it. More than a dozen of breaks into tournament out-rounds later, including at Manchester EUDC 2013, he is still fascinated by the universal sport of debating. It does not only teach universally applicable skills. Stefan has visited close to every country in the world where tournaments are held in English as a debater, be it in Ireland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Philippines or Australia.

When asked where he would pick Euros to happen after Vienna in 2015 and Warsaw in 2016, he answers that the most important factor is not the location, but a committed OrgCom. Stefan is always present in the OrgCom, even though much of his work remains in the background. He describes his position as strategic, which means levelling the playing field for others to work out details. For example, he took on the early work of researching and then negotiating and working out contracts with hotels, the details of which are now being worked out by the accommodation team. His job also involves negotiating the terms for our long-term partnership with the universities. Planning how to allocate the rooms exactly will then be someone else’s duty. Another component of the convenor’s strategic position is to create an environment in which the team can work productively. For instance, founding DKWien’s daughter company in order to better carry out the tournament came close to Sisyphean labour due to all the puzzles of corporate and tax law that needed to be solved. Apparently the Austrian legal system never envisaged that a group of student volunteers would ever want to host such a massive event. A third aspect of Stefan’s work is to supervise the OrgCom and assign tasks within it, all the while keeping in mind the long list of to-dos in detail. Certainly, time is never on the convenor’s side, as the sheer multitude of tasks makes prioritising a difficult but necessary aspect of the work. Stefan explains that the society is getting ever better at pushing the envelope, to do what lies in the capacity of a crew of young, motivated people.

While time is not on his side, the OrgCom is. Stefan sees Vienna EUDC 2015 as a uniting cause for which DKWien can work together and thereby promote the sport it loves. By organising the tournament so well that no one involved can get rid of their smile, the society will develop the confidence it needs for the promotion of the sport in Austria and in the international competitive circuit. Its members will grow, too, and so our freshers of today are acquiring the knowledge and skills to lead Austrian debating in the future. Stefan’s vision of debating in Austria in ten years’ time is that every university should have its own active debating society. There will also be a schools league that is competitively successful on the schools’ circuit, as will be DKWien in university-level competitions.

What will he be doing two days after the competition? Very likely sleeping, and still failing to wipe the bright smile off his face. This will be close to what he thinks makes for a perfect Euros experience: Happiness both for the participants and the organisers. Vienna Euros will create a legacy to look back on and to be proud of for the participants, and most importantly, DKWien members who pass on the fire. In the end, Stefan is really happy that he took up debating, which he calls the access to the fast lane of student life. Debating leaves less time for studying, less time for preparation and focusing on exams. And yet it allows for much faster processing and understanding of the necessary information, and how to argue much more precisely in both written and of course oral exams. It might thus be called a dark art, but an art that is definitely very useful.

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