Jan 27, 2009

Debate Team Preps for Top Spot

by Amanda Forth

The Liberty debate team once again finds itself in great position to take the national championship in all divisions of the intercollegiate debate’s governing organizations. The debate team just claimed victories at Mary Washington and George Mason Universities. The season is now 60 percent over with, and currently the debate team sits at the top of the American Debate Association (ADA) and the National Debate Association (NDA).

The debate team traveled to James Madison University where Stephanie Dillard received individual honors as top speaker, Ross Garrett received second speaker and Ben Hagwood won 10th speaker.
They then traveled to the University of Mary Washington where the varsity debate team earned all three top seeds in the elimination rounds. Both Ryan Bass and Jackie Poapst finished with a 6-0 record, and Dillard and Garret finished 5-1 along with the team of Lincoln Garrett and Joshua Turnage. Dillard and Garrett won the tournament with a 2-1 decision defeating William Mary. Garrett claimed top speaker and Dillard received 2nd.

Finishing up the rounds of tournaments landed the team at George Mason, where the team completed their travels with a 3-0 decision win over Clarion University. Joshua Armstrong was named top speaker, Maria Eller received second and Beau and Troxclair came in third.
But not everyone was completely satisfied by the team’s current rankings. Debate Captain Garrett feels the team still has unreached potential.

“I think our debate team still has accomplishments at the varsity level it could achieve...I hope this season will put the team on a track to continue growth in this area,” he said.

The debate team argues only one topic per season. This year’s topic is whether or not the federal government should participate in agricultural subsidiaries. The debate team spends hours of research each week on the topic in addition to practicing their debates.

Director of Debate Michael Hall said that the average time spent on research per week was approximately 20 hours, with the varsity teams spending even more than that in preparation.

“The amount of work that a debate student puts into research and working on their debate is equivalent to the research required for a PhD thesis,” Hall said.

The debate team works just like any other intercollegiate sport, including the benefit of scholarships. One of the differences with debate is the academic credit that students receive while participating on the team. Each team member receives one credit hour per semester and is enrolled in a COMS 395 class that helps them acquire tools that are essential to debate and life.

“(Debate) pushes students to think analytically and fosters intellectual development,” Amy Boyd said. “These two skills are necessary to challenge the current assumptions that pervade our modern culture.”
A common misconception about the debate team is that it’s strictly for law students. Hall explained that the tools that a student acquires while learning how to debate and do the research are invaluable resources that anyone can use after graduation.

“The debate team plays a role in your education, no matter what your major is,” Hall said.

Contact Amanda Forth at
ajforth@liberty.edu.

 


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