Debate Team National Championship

Debate Team Attends National Championship Tournament for the First Time

The University Debate Team competed at the Cross Examination Debate Association/National Debate Tournament (CEDA/NDT) national championship, scoring victories over debate teams from the University of Madison-Wisconsin, the New School, Southwestern College, and James Madison University.

The championship, which was held at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, took place from March 15 to March 18. This is the sixth and final tournament that the debate team participated in during the 2017-2018 academic school year.

According to Joseph Patten, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and the debate team’s faculty adviser, four students competed in the tournament, compared to the usual 16-20 students that attend. Juniors Alexis Vasquez, Sabrina Saenger and Gregory Harpe and sophomore Landon Myers, all political science students, participated in the four-day tournament. Saenger and Harpe competed as one team of two, and Myers and Vasquez competed as another.

The tournament included approximately 160 debaters from over 30 universities around the country, including Harvard University, Cornell University, New York University, the University of Southern California, and the U.S. Military Academy.

“Going to the tournament was extremely scary,” said Saenger, who beat the New School, Southwestern University, and James Madison University. “This was Monmouth’s first time competing at Nationals. We had no idea what do expect, but we knew competition was going to be tough, though going up against these nationally-ranked teams really helped us learn and improve our debating skills.”

“The teams did really well,” said Patten. “This is the first time Monmouth University had teams compete in the national debate tournament, so it’s a sign that our program is growing and gaining national exposure.”

The debate resolution for the 2017-2018 year has been health care, according to Patten. Students argue on both the affirmative side, advocating for different types of national health insurance plans, and the negative side, where they argue against said health insurance plans.

“We’ve had a debate team since 2009, and I think this has been our most successful season in terms of winning awards, having over 35 different debaters compete in at least one tournament, and in competing in six weekend-long tournaments,” Patten continued.

Myers earned a National Debate Scholar Award at the tournament. According to Patten, the award was earned for excelling in both the debate rounds and in the classroom. Myers competed in all six tournaments this season, as well as maintaining a “near 4.0 grade point average” according to Patten.

“As captain of the team, I’m extremely proud of everyone for putting themselves out there and doing their best,” said Saenger. “Getting some wins made me even more proud. Competing at a national tournament was really a great accomplishment for us all, and for the debate program as a whole.”

The 2017-2018 debate resolution is about health care, meaning that teams have been debating the same topic all year. Each team of debaters competed in eight two-hour rounds on Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16; playoff rounds were held on Saturday, March 17, and Sunday, March 18.

“I think people need three things in order to succeed in life,” Patten said. “We have to know things, we have to have skills, and we have to be tough to overcome all obstacles that come our way in life. Debate does all these things.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Sabrina Saenger