The University Debate Team received four team awards at the Phyllis Schatz Invitational, hosted by the SUNY-Binghamton this weekend. The team went 4-2 on Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22, and defeated Cornell University in a quarter-final playoff round on Sunday, Sept. 23.
“We actually went up against the same Cornell team during the regular rounds and they were a really tough team to debate,” Eric Schwartz, a political science student sophomore, explained. “They were obviously incredibly intelligent and used some pretty intricate and unique arguments. They ended up winning that round. When we learned that we would be facing them in the playoffs, we knew we had to step up our game. Matt and I prepared for the arguments they might run, and ended up beating them and advancing in the playoffs.”
“It felt great to defeat an Ivy League school, and I’d like to think that it reflected really positively on Monmouth and even helped with our reputation as a school to take seriously,” said Schwartz. Cohen also believes that the team’s win against Cornell at the tournament is a major achievement for the University, and he credits their success to the work and commitment of the rest of the team and of their advisor, Joseph Patten, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, and an associate professor of political science.
“Defeating Cornell was a really great win for me and my partner Eric. However, it was all because of debaters like Gregory Harpe, Kaitlin Allsopp, Landon Myers, and Alexis Vasquez who put so much time and effort into gathering evidence and mentoring the Eric and myself,” said Matt Cohen, a junior computer science major. “Debate is all about the team and our leadership is amazing and me and Eric would have gone nowhere without them.”
“And of course without the amazing Dr. Patten to guide us through the good and the bad, debate would just be another academic activity not the fun and enjoyable experience it is because of him,” he added.
According to Patten, another team within the experienced division, which consists of students on University scholarships, also “scored hard-fought victories” in debates against other teams in their division. Landon Myers, a senior political science student with a minor in economics, and one of the team captains of the University’s Debate Team, explained how the team prepared for the tournament.
“Last year, we went to our first tournament much earlier than any year before. It worked so well we decided to start earlier again. However, that meant we had less than three weeks to get everything prepared. While that may seem like a long time, debate requires a lot of materials that need to be ready before a tournament starts,” said Myers. “So the past three weeks, the captains and debaters returning from last year researched and compiled documents dozens of pages long.”
“The success of this tournament was not by just showing up, but scrimmaging to refresh ourselves of debate, researching to prepare arguments to make at the tournament, and helping new debate team members prepare for the tournament themselves. With all the work that went into the tournament beforehand by everyone on the team, it is exciting to see such success,” he added.
Gregory Harpe, a senior political science student, and one of the team captains, agreed with Myers that weeks of scrimmaging and much time researching to compile evidence to use in the debates were successful. “This work is clearly paying off because we have so many strong teams and are getting wins off of Ivy League schools such as Cornell,” he said.
“We are also extremely lucky to have a great coach and mentor in Dr. Patten, who not only teaches us debate strategies and information, but also serves as a motivator who teaches us about grit and never giving up when faced with adversity,” Harpe added.
According to Patten, three other University teams also made it into the playoff rounds by going 4-2, before narrowly losing on 2-1 votes against teams from George Mason University and SUNY-Binghamton in the novice division.
The tournament included approximately 150 debaters from teams from 12 universities including Cornell University, George Mason University, West Point Military Academy, West Virginia University, Liberty University, University of Rochester, Rutgers, and New School. Each year, a topic is picked to be debated at every tournament.
According to Kaitlin Allsopp, a junior political science student with a minor in gender studies, and one of the team captains, this year’s topic was whether the United States federal government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the executive power of the president in one or more of the following areas: “authority to conduct first-use nuclear strikes; congressionally delegated trade power; exit from congressional-executive agreements and Article II treaties; judicial deference to all or nearly all federal administrative agency interpretations of statutes and/or regulations; the bulk incidental collection of all or nearly all foreign intelligence information on United States persons without a warrant.”
The University’s Debate Team will next compete at the West Point Military Academy on the weekend of Oct. 26.