Debate Team competes in California

The Monmouth University Debate Team competed in the CEDA National Debate Championships from Thursday, Mar. 21, to Saturday, Mar. 23, on the campus of California State University at Fullerton.
The team arrived in Los Angeles on the night of Wednesday, March 20. On Thursday, the team spent the day at Laguna Beach and went to Disneyland for dinner before the tournament began on Friday. Alex Mykulyn, the team’s co-captain said, “The day off was a nice chance to explore Laguna Beach and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Then it was right to work.”

Friday and Saturday both consisted of four two-hour rounds with about an hour in between each round. The Hawks took on teams from the University of Kansas, Penn State, University of Southern California (USC), Wake Forest, and many others. Mykulyn added, “It was definitely a fight every single round, but we held our own and picked up some wins.” More than 200 debaters from across the country were present at the tournament. At the end, each of the five Monmouth teams in the tournament had secured at least one win.

Jocelyn Marsh, another co-captain, said, “The team went into nationals knowing it was going to be a difficult tournament but nonetheless we had a lot of fun and even secured a few wins against infamously difficult schools.”

Joeseph Patten, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Sociology as well as the team’s advisor, said, “It’s great for our debate program to compete at the national championship, I really admire the competitive spirit of our debaters.” Monmouth has never sent more teams to the national championship than they did this year. Patten added, “It’s been a wildly successful year for the team.”

In September, the Hawks kicked off the season at the University of Missouri tournament. Monmouth teams Veronica Belloso and Bella Jennison, and Jackie Tamburrino and Camryn Toth, both advanced to the finals. Because teams from the same school don’t compete against each other, the two teams were named co-champions. Six of the top ten awards for the highest speaker’s points went to Monmouth debaters. Speaker’s points are awarded based on clarity, persuasiveness, delivery, and cross-examination during the round.

In October, eight teams traveled to the University of Houston to compete against Cornell University, Harvard University, West Point, and the University of Oklahoma, among others. Two teams, Matthew Boyle and Patrick Carbone, and Brendan Sheehan and Destiny Goodfriend, advanced to playoffs. Jacky Bruno and Veronica Belloso placed in the top ten for speaker’s points.

In November, Monmouth hosted the Jersey Shore Invitational on campus. JV team Mariami Ramirez and Julia Schaefer advanced to the finals. Novice teams Lauren Laureano and Mark Bravaco, and Mike Makfinsky and Patrick Carbone, advanced to the quarterfinals. Laureano and Belloso both placed in the top three for speaker’s points, two of just eight awards given to the Hawks. The team competed against New York University (NYU), West Point, and the New School, among others.

In February, nine teams traveled to Suffolk University Law School in Boston for the CEDA Northeast Regional Championships. The Hawks competed in seven rounds over the weekend, and Jocelyn Marsh and Veronica Belloso defeated Cornell University to advance to the playoffs. The team picked up a handful of victories as they took on schools, including Boston College, Cornell University, New York University, and West Point. The topic of this year’s debate resolution was “Resolved: The United States should restrict its nuclear forces in one or more of the following ways: adopting a nuclear no-first-use policy, eliminating one or more of the legs of its nuclear triad, or disarming its nuclear forces.”

Anyone interested in joining the debate team should reach out to Dr. Joe Patten at or visit him in his office in Bey Hall, Room 246.