Debate Team Nine Awards

Debate Team Earns Nine Awards in California Tournament

Members of the Monmouth University Debate Team reached the final championship round and two other debaters reached the semifinal round, and in total, earned nine team and individual speaking awards, at a tournament hosted by Southwestern College from Jan. 19 – 21.

Landon Myers, a sophomore political science student, and Eric Schwartz, a freshman political science student, reached the final championship round as they debated whether the federal government should establish national health insurance in the United States, the topic of the 2017-2018 National Debate Tournament/Cross Examination Debate Association (NDT/CEDA) season. They lost the round to a team from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Both Myers and Schwartz also received individual speaking awards.

“The topic for this year is about National Health Insurance, but that topic is as broad as you choose to make it,” Myers said. “For example, one of the arguments I run is about Accountable Health Communities, which are federally run programs that address people’s social needs, like housing and food insecurity, to better their health.”

“It was extremely exciting to advance as far as we did, especially because I’m a freshman with no debate experience prior to this year,” said Schwartz.

 “We went up against an incredibly strong team from UNLV in the finals and lost. I knew I would most likely break into the playoffs because of the tournament’s size and my success in larger tournaments, but I didn’t expect to go as far as we did.”

 Alexis Vasquez, a sophomore political science student, and Chris Diolosa, a senior political science student, went 5-1 in the preliminary rounds and reached the semifinal round.

“At the tournament, I prepared my case with the Monmouth Debate Team and anticipated arguments that would be used against our evidence for advocating health care reformation in the United States,” said Diolosa.

“The tournament was a lot of fun because the Monmouth Debate Team has been preparing for this tournament since September. Competition was tough because debaters from all over the country attended the tournament.”

Vasquez and Diolosa also won individual speaking awards, along with sophomore communication student Claudia Di Mondo, senior political science student Ryan Kelly, and sophomore political science student Alec Guilluian.

All who won individual speaking awards were in the novice division. According to Myers, the speaking awards are distributed based on composure and organization while debating.

“Making it to the final round is extremely difficult,” said Myers. “The last round was close and I learned a lot by competing against the University of Nevada – Las Vegas team as they were a great team too. Making it to the final round was exhilarating as it is such a challenge to make it that far in a tournament.”

 Tournament competitors included debate teams from University of California Berkeley, the University of Southern California, the University of Miami, Arizona State University, and Cal State Fullerton, among others. In total, ten universities competed at the tournament.

“At the tournament, there were five pre-elimination rounds,” said Myers. “Each round takes roughly two hours. My partner and I were able to achieve a winning record of 4 – 1 during the pre-elimination, giving us the second seeded spot in the elimination rounds.”

In the preliminary rounds, each team of students arguing on the affirmative side for three rounds, and then the negative side for three. Teams that compile a winning record in the preliminary rounds go on to the playoff rounds, which were held on Sun., Jan. 21.

 “I debated both sides of the Single Payer Healthcare debate at the tournament in San Diego,” said Schwartz. “It was a good experience, because I felt like I knew more about the topic, having already debated in two tournaments this year.”

This was the fourth tournament that the debate team competed in this year. Previous tournaments have been held at Rutgers University, West Point, and Monmouth University; in February, the team will compete at the New School in New York City.

“The team did really great at this tournament despite some stiff competition,” said Joseph Patten, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology and associate professor of political science.

“We’ve been going out to California for the last six years, either in Sacramento or San Diego.
Patten added. “One of the great things about debate is you get to travel around the country.  It was really interesting because we were staying four miles or so from the Mexican border, near Tijuana.  It’s interesting to see what’s going on near the border, especially with immigration issues playing such a prominent role in our politics.”

In total, 18 Monmouth debaters attended the tournament, broken into nine teams of two debaters each. Monmouth graduates and debate team alumni Dan Roman, Matt Toto, and Danielle Doud helped judge and coach debaters at the tournament.

 “It’s been a great year,” Patten said. “We have around 35 debaters on the team, and it’s nice that we’ll be able to go to five tournaments. We are a really deep team this year in that we have a number of teams that can break into the playoff rounds on any given weekend.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Sabrina Saenger