BACK IN 1998

What you’re about to read is a personal notes written by one of club’s founder, Aviva NababanShe is a great figure who keeps our club alive. And by now I write this, she is still (and maybe always will) admired.

Prepare a coffee or snack maybe. It’s gonna be long, but I promise you, this will be really useful for you to know how ADC is developed, and what ADC truly is.

For you members, it might help you to relive your spirit (in debating), and for you fresh student, this will be a great and powerful consideration.


This is just an account from an old broad about what transpired in 1997. That year, there was an English Debating Competition held by the English Club of the Faculty of Economic Science in Atma Jaya University. I was there, a 2nd year student at the Faculty of English Teaching, when a friend of  mine, Tjhin Lince (later on she would invent the ADC logo as you know it) came to me and said “hey Avi- come and help me out! We’re going to participate in this inter-faculty debating competition and you would fit right in!”. I was sitting in front of my usual hang out, the Starmart (now it’s beside the Niaga Bank), and said “If I say yes, will you leave me alone”. Lince said “Definitely!”. Little did I know it was my first footstep into the rabbit hole.

We won the stupid thing by the way. Lince, Yuli, and I from the Faculty of English Teaching and Education. The competition was way off from what you call Parliamentary Debating nowadays. It was more like a “Kusir Debate”. Flippancy won the day. I didn’t even stick around for the trophy giving ceremony. I thought that was it. But it was not. 

So, again, I was doing my own business when Lince approached me and said “Please be with us again to join this competition at the University of Indonesia”. So I did. And then I found out the other team from Atma Jaya Univesity was Budi, Kristin, and Tessa. So there were two teams from the University, no one knew what on earth Parliamentary Debating was, just participated in all glee and – well- ignorance I guess. And no- at this point, there was no Atma Jaya Debating Club yet.


Early to Mid of 1998- the year of reform. It was a turbulent time- the economic crisis was looming. The students movements were stirring, each stir was responded violently by the state apparatus.

But like in other places, while all this happened, life still went on. 1998, we were on the brink of the most tumultuous period in our nation’s life since 1965, and IVED (Indonesian Varsities English Debate) 1998 was organized and Atma Jaya was participating with two teams consisting of 6 virgin debaters (do not know AT ALL what debate is).

It was where the Atma Jaya’s history in Parliamentary Debating was firstly forged. It formed the Atma Jaya approach to debating, the philosophy we adopted.

As I told you before, Atma Jaya University’s teams knew poorly about Parliamentary Debating. The Debating seminar did nothing to enlighten us, not because Perry did a bad job at it, but because we could not conceptualize what he was talking about.

And thus the underdog teams managed to come home with the 3rd place trophy and the 5th Best Speaker award. Not bad for two virgin teams 🙂

You see, we did not have a coach, but we coached each other.

There was one other thing that I needed to tell you. During the first IVED (Indonesian Varsities English Debate), there was the first ICM. (some kind of meeting). One of the items in the agenda was the next IVED host. Atma Jaya and Naval  Academy placed a bid for being a host for the 1999 IVED. Naval Academy won, and Atma Jaya University was appointed as the “spare” in case the Naval Academy could not make it.

Day Light. Finally.

September 1998. Worst night of my life. We just lost friends. When the sun rose. even the leaves of the decorative plants in front of Atma Jaya reeked with tear gas. Sudirman road was abandoned. The night was a horror of tear gas and water canon and rubber bullet shots. I was reeling. I just stood there in my orange jacket,my shoes dipped in a puddle.  The previous night had been unreal. The calm sunny morning was fantasy. Nothing made sense anymore. Did they just SHOOT at us? Did the military really tried to barge into the campus and beat the crap out of us? I could not get my head around it.

And in came Budi. “Avi- you had a rough night?” I was like: “Heh? you wouldn’t want to know”. Budi, the smart one, did not immediately pursue the issue he came for. He just stood by me, looking at Trisakti and LPK Tarki’s girls balancing on their heels trying to get on the metrominis.

I then ignored him. He just stood beside me. We watched some more.  Then Budi blurted out: “I heard the Navy Academy pulled out from hosting IVED 2. We are the spare. We are now the host of IVED 1999″

I looked at him incredulously. He said: “look vi, we just have to do it”

I said: “not a good moment to talk about debating Budi”

He said: “I’m sorry. It just has to be done”

I said: “Budi. we don’t have enough knowledge to host a debate competition!”

The guy just adjusted his glasses and said, “we could learn. like we did before. all I want to know is, will you support me?”


We watched the metrominis drove away. I was still reeling, Everything was still unreal. So I told him “Look Bud, you take care of this debating competition. I will help as I said, but for now I really gotta go”

The organizing of IVED 2 was a feat and accomplishment that testified to the tenacity of Atma Jayans when confronted with the impossible. You see, we did not have a debating club.

The University management wasn’t exactly jumping up and down to help us with even the seed money to host the competition.

So the first order of business was mobilizing resources. Each of the first debaters had to recruit their friends to be the organizing committee.

I approached Yuli, and told her: “OK. You’re out of OC. Now you’re going to be the recruiter and coach. Lince and I will stay in the OC and make the competition happen. You need to recruit fresh blood for IVED 2. Build a respectable team.”.

This was when we had a second batch of debaters coming in. When Yuli recruited, she recruited. And boy, she and Lince just had a very sharp nose in identifying potential “victims” 😉 . Out of the pre-IVED 2 recruitment, we got Nuansa, Ceria, Jenny, Norman, Santi, Michelle,Janet, Pao Peng, Andi and all of  the rest of the happy people. The training then proceeded. The original debaters, and even Lita who never had any competition experience yet, went in and tried to mold the newbies into debaters. But deep inside we were afraid because there was no competition to train the newbies to face a real competition. And having two virgin teams to represent the host wasn’t a good option.


We hosted IVED 1999. It was weird- as I told you ADC was not in inception yet. The OC comprised of a compilation of people recruited by the first debaters, and each of them had to learn about the basic of debating quickly to know the event they were involved in. And the fund drive. O Lord. It was hard… As I said before, the University Management did not exactly gave out money. We approached countless companies and ministries just to get by. Overall though, we did good. Most people in the competition were happy at the end of the day.

The finals was something I was exceptionally proud of. Not only the host team managed to reach it (Yuli, Santi and Michelle), but we also managed to hold it in the Ministry of Educational Affairs Hall thanks to the heroic effort that Budi did when he and I hijacked a Ministry of Education event we had been invited to by UI EDS. We basically stalked the Minister, chased him to his car, alarming his aides, to give the IVED proposal and begging him to help us. The final rocked. Yuli, Santi and Michelle had to fight UI’s team A and although they lost, they gave a hell of a fight.I think we also had a best speaker trophy- Michelle as the second best speaker, if I was not mistaken.


In short, we may have to house the participants in a dingy Ministry of Education accommodation in Taman Mini. We may have to hold most of the debates in a building made out of plywood because it was the only one with all air conditioned class rooms. We may not be able to invite as many media as the IVED 1 OC. But we organized a respectable competition, damned straight we did.


I was outside the Hall after the Final, smoking and basking in a sense of relief for having seen the competition ended. I was thinking, “So may be this is it. I can go back to my “normal” life after this” when  UI debating god, Bubu, approached me. He was one of the OC members of the first IVED, I think the Chief of Adjudicator, and he certainly had high standard on the quality of competitive debating.

So I politely asked “Everything was done up to your standard, I hope?”.


Bubu shrugged “not bad. I guess now all that remains is a debating society for Atma Jaya, right Avi?”

And Bubu said “Avi, you can do it. I know you can. Moreover, you want to.”


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