The Monmouth University Debate Team hosted its 5th Annual Jersey Shore Invitational Debate Tournament on campus. Three University teams won awards by advancing into the playoff rounds.
More than 150 participants from ten universities registered for this nationally-sanctioned tournament, which took place on Nov. 18 and 19. Registered debaters included students from New York University, George Mason University, Liberty University, Cornell University, the New School, Rutgers University, University of Rochester, Wilkes University, SUNY Binghamton, and Monmouth University.
The University team took home three team awards over the weekend behind the team of sophomore political science students Landon Myers and Chase Petras, who made it into the quarterfinals after a playoff round victory on a 2-1 ballot over New York University.
“Advancing to the quarter finals was amazing,” said Myers. “To get there we won an upset against NYU in the elimination rounds. It was my first win in the elimination rounds and I was ecstatic. During the tournament I generally try to be unemotional because there is always that next round of debating and I need to stay focused.”
The team of sophomore Alexis Vasquez and senior Chris Diolosa received awards for advancing into the playoff rounds.
“I was jubilant, but debate teaches you to be humble and gritty because to get an award, you have to take a few on the chin to realize that you need to keep on trucking through the tough times,” said Diolosa, a political science student.
“Practice is key in order to be prepared for a debate tournament,” said Vasquez. “This usually entails scrimmages in which teams run full debate rounds. Running scrimmages really help debaters find their footing by exposing them to potential arguments and developing their own cases. Winning a team award and advancing into the playoffs is great because we can see that our hard work preparing for the tournament, especially since it was at Monmouth too.”
The freshman team of Eric Schwartz and Matthew Cohen also received awards for qualifying for playoffs.
“My partner, Matt Cohen, and I were 3-3 for the tournament, meaning that speaker points [points given based on public speaking] would determine if we broke into the playoffs. Once we found out that our speaker points put us over the edge into the playoffs it was a great feeling for us and the team,” said Schwartz, a political science student.
“Debate is pretty exhausting so it was a double-edged sword,” said Cohen, a computer science student. “We were excited but very tired.”
The topic for this year’s Jersey Shore Invitational was Resolved: The United States Federal Government Should Establish National Health Insurance in the United States.
“Teams compete from the affirmative and the negative perspective and compete in six two hour rounds over the course of a weekend,” said Joseph Patten, Ph.D., the debate team advisor and an associate professor of political science. “We have two separate cases when on the affirmative – one is a Medicare for all plan, and the other is a ‘One Health’ plan that calls on extending health benefits to humans and non-humans alike (i.e. animal care).”
Patten mentioned the teams approach when arguing from the negative side, “…it depends on the opponent’s affirmative case. We have about ten different arguments depending on what the opponent is running. Teams run a bunch of different cases. On the negative we run different policy arguments and different philosophical arguments.”
According to Diolosa, who qualified for the playoff rounds, “Questions we were asked pertained to how and who would pay for this kind of health care system, what would be the impacts on the economy and the pharmaceutical industry, long wait times for medical treatments and federal deficits and what groups of people do not have health care in the United States right now.”
The topic received mixed feelings among members of the debate team.
“I wasn’t too excited about the topic at first, because it’s very emotionally charged, and thus a little more difficult to argue against. But I am actually enjoying it a lot. There’s a lot of different approaches to solving the problems in the status quo regarding health care,” said third-year debater and political science student Kaitlin Allsopp.
“I was very excited that this year’s topic was focused on health care because it’s something that I had very little knowledge of, but was also something that was becoming an important national issue,” said senior captain and political science student Emely Diaz.
“The resolution this year is not as exciting as last years in my opinion,” said Petras, a political science student. “Last year the resolution revolved around energy and this allowed debaters to have more options with their cases. This year the resolution involves healthcare which limits the options we have. So, it does make the topic this year not as enjoyable.”
Patten and the team went through days of preparation in order to be tournament ready. According to Schwartz, each team is required to scrimmage at least five times before their first tournament.
“They (the debaters) have to time themselves and make sure they can read their speeches in under nine minutes. They also write frontlines for arguments, which is an overview of the arguments, both for the affirmative and the negative,” Allsopp added.
According to Patten, six debate alumni came back to help judge and coach including former captains Michelle Grushko and Dan Roman, as well as Saliha Younas, Danielle Doud, Matthew Doud, Payal Patel, and Ryan Kelly.
“It was very comforting to know that so many alumni were coming back to help coach for our home tournament,” said Diaz. “The fact that they had so much knowledge and experience made it all a bit less overwhelming.”
This was the Hawks’ third tournament this semester, and they will compete in two more tournaments in the spring semester.
“We are looking to compete at the New School in early February and our final tournament will either be in San Diego or Seattle,” said Patten.
PHOTO COURTESY of Joseph Patten