Alumni News

Two Debate Team members compete at Oxford University

November 16, 2015 : Liberty University News Service

Kaitlyn Schiess, a senior history major, and Leonora Crane, a senior studying government, were selected to represent Liberty University at a debate competition at Oxford University.
Debate Team members Leonora Crane (left) and Kaitlyn Schiess represented Liberty University at the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition.

Two members of Liberty University’s nationally-ranked Debate Team were invited to attend the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition, Nov. 13-14 in London. The competition is recognized as one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the world.

There were 130 teams at the competition, each comprised of two students from top universities, including Yale University, Harvard University, Stanford University, Duke University, and Cambridge University.

Kaitlyn Schiess, a senior history major, and Leonora Crane, a senior studying government, were selected to represent Liberty.

For the last 15 years, Liberty has fielded one of the nation’s strongest debate teams. The team consistently ranks high in all three of debate’s governing organizations. Liberty is currently ranked first in both the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and National Debate Tournament (NDT) rankings. The American Debate Association (ADA) has not released its first rankings report.

Liberty’s team has been crowned the ADA rankings champion for 12 consecutive seasons, has been the CEDA rankings champion for the last seven seasons, and has captured the NDT rankings championship in eight of the last 10 years, including 2014-15. Liberty is still the only school to finish first in all three rankings in a single year.

Liberty has won the varsity division at the prestigious United States Military Academy tournament four times. Since the West Point Tournament started in 1967, only Cornell has won the Varsity division more times than Liberty.

Michael Hall, director of Liberty’s Debate Team, said one of the biggest benefits of going to the London competition was the opportunity to debate on an international stage.

“We are used to competing against America’s best universities in the style of debate that we do, but this was a chance to take those skills and test them as debaters against teams from all around the world,” Hall said.

He said the two students were chosen based on their experience with forum debate, which is similar to the debate style at Oxford.

Schiess said that debating with other schools from around the world was an invaluable experience.

“I am thankful that I go to a school like Liberty that values debate and gives us the opportunity to travel across the world to do what we love most,” she said.

The debate was comprised of five preliminary rounds, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals, and a grand final. Four teams faced off in the preliminary debates, with each individual giving a seven-minute speech, during which the opposing teams would interject with questions and counter arguments.

Liberty ranked second in two of the preliminary debates, and placed third in another (results of the other two are not yet available). The team did not qualify for the quarterfinal round.