UBC Okanagan engineering professor Dr. Ray Taheri celebrates the win at the UBCO Society of Scholars Life Raft Debate Zombie Edition. (Photo: Andrea Marie Tan)

Engineering professor’s rhetoric wins UBC Okanagan zombie apocalypse debate

Professor Dr. Ray Taheri persuaded the audience in the fun, make-believe 2020 Life Raft Debate

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse 101…

Not exactly a class that you can take at most universities, but at the 2020 UBC Okanagan Society of Scholars Life Raft Debate, university professors joined in a fun, academic discussion on which professor would be most valuable come an apocalypse.

Engineering professor Dr. Ray Taheri took home top honours as the best of six rhetoricians as he convinced the audience to take him along on the “last seat of a life raft” that will rebuild society after the make-believe end of the world.

Event organizer Jesse Lafontaine picked up the idea after seeing something similar done in the U.S. and thought it would be well-received amongst the UBCO faculty.

“This is a fun way to show off the strengths and weaknesses of the professors’ disciplines,” said Lafontaine.

“It allows the professors a less academic and more fun way to show off which makes for an entertaining battle of intellect.”

READ MORE: Who’s best to bring along in a zombie apocalypse? UBC Okanagan professors argue

In the second edition of the debate, Taheri argued that as a engineer he could solve all matters of problems for the surviving members of the human race specifically the best ways to supply food and water to rebuilding communities.

Dr. Taheri usurped last year’s winner Stephen McNeil, a chemistry professor.

The engineer beat out fellow debaters from the faculties of English, Human Kinetics, Education and Deputy VP Deborah Buszard, who represented university administration. There was also a devils advocate arguing that none of the six professors should be brought on the life raft also participated.

Lafontaine said that English professor Dr. Bryce Traister had a surprisingly good argument amongst the more science-orientated competitors.

“He said he’s use Moby Dick as his guide,” said Lafontaine.

“To make the end of civilization an intellectually satisfying experience.”

But Dr. Traister couldn’t out-argue Dr. Taheri as the audience of voters picked the engineer as the 2020 winner.

READ MORE: UBCO and Elizabeth Fry host panel to discuss structural change for sexual assault survivors

When Lafontaine approached UBCO about the idea of the debate, they were very supportive. After the growth that the event has seen in its second year, going from close to 200 to over 400 guests, the plans for next year’s Life Raft Debate have already started.

“Hopefully make it bigger and better,” said Lafontaine.

“The school has been incredibly supportive and we built on the success from last year to this year. Dr. Taheri will of course be back next year as defending champion and compete against different professors in a slightly different theme.”

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