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Last updateWed, 10 Oct 2018 4pm

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Debate Team Earns Awards in Tournament

Debate TeamThe Monmouth University debate team reached the semi-final round of a debate tournament hosted at the New School in New York City, taking home several awards.

The tournament, which was the weekend of Feb. 10, is the fifth tournament that the University has competed in this academic year. Twelve students attended the tournament. Sophomore computer science student Matthew Cohen and sophomore communication student Claudia Dimondo reached the semi-final round, and junior social work student Sarah Bowers and sophomore clinical lab sciences student Michael Scognomillo reached the quarter-final playoff round. Freshman business management student Nicholas Goranites also took home a seventh place individual speaking award.

“The experience was so great and my partner and I made it to the semi-finals,” said Dimondo, who was partnered with Cohen. “Going into the tournament, I was nervous because we were going up against some really good, experienced teams, but Matt and I proved that as long as you work well together, communicate, and have fun, you can succeed.”

Other competing University students included seniors Sabrina Saenger and Ryan Kelly, juniors Gregory Harpe and Kaitlin Allsopp, and sophomore students Landon Myers, Alexis Vasquez, and Yendelli Bello. All are political science students.

The tournament included approximately 100 debaters from several universities including Boston College, New York University, the New School, and the United States Military Academy.

“This school year’s resolution was debating if the federal government should implement a single payer healthcare policy,” said Goranites. “Essentially, should the federal government be responsible for funding health care for all people within the United States, as opposed to private insurance companies? After many intense rounds of debating for and against a single payer health care policy, my partner Yendelli Bello and I won two rounds and lost four.”

At this tournament, there were six preliminary rounds, each lasting approximately two hours, with each team of two students arguing in both the negative and the affirmative. Those who compiled a winning record in the preliminary rounds made it into the Sunday, Feb. 11 playoff rounds, according to Joseph Patten, Ph.D., associate professor of political science.

“We lost to a very good team so we were both just grateful to get that far,” said Cohen. “We were up against a Liberty team, who are like the Yankees of debate. I always love when my other teammates advance farther than me because it shows as a team how far we are progressing.

“Each round was an exciting exchange of ideas and arguments,” said Goranites. “Every time I got up on the podium, I could feel my heart pounding with excitement!”

Goranites won one of ten speaker awards given at the tournament. He explained that the award is earned by a general ability to defend arguments and use those arguments to attack the ideas of one’s opponents.

“This is the best team, I think, ever,” said Patten. “We have four or five teams that at any given weekend can do really well. I think we just have a team that has been staying with it. I think they are researching their cases harder. I always say that debate isn’t about speaking, it’s about critical thinking. Teams who do well are generally teams that work hard.

Kenneth Womack, Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences, also attended the tournament.

“I attended the tournament to support our debaters,” Womack said. “It was my first collegiate tournament, and it was an unforgettable experience to see our amazing students in action. I was blown away by their incredible preparation between rounds as they geared up for their opponents and honed their arguments. Professor Patten and his students are a great credit to our university!”

“It really comes down to, like anything else, people who work hard,” Patten added. “How you do in a debate tournament really starts weeks before the debate tournament in your preparations. You win or lose there, not in a debate tournament. You win or lose in your preparations.”

“I believe that this was my partner and I’s best tournament so far,” said Goranites. “Every round was exciting and fun. The competition certainly was not easy, but that makes it all the more fun! It was really exciting to see my fellow teammates break through to the following rounds. I am really proud of them and am always wishing for the best when going to these tournaments.” 

PHOTO COURTESY of Joseph Patten

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