Debate Team to advance

SUBMITTED This will be the ATU Debate Team’s first year to compete at the Madison cup, an invitation only tournament.

More than 100 students competed in the second tournament hosted by the Debate and Forensics team this semester on Feb. 24.

“Eighteen schools from eight states traveled to compete in the tournament. There were schools from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Washington state,” said Dr. Gabriel Adkins, director of the Debate and Forensics team and associate professor of communication.

“The team went through an extensive planning process, including allocation of jobs and finding volunteers,” said George Wewer III, a political science major from Russellville.

Approximately 50 people volunteered to help judge and facilitate the tournament.This is the second year that Tech has hosted a major tournament in addition to its regular tournament. The tournament hosted at Tech is the fourth tournament the team has competed in this semester and the seventh the team has competed this academic year.

“It feels like every weekend we’ve had a tournament,” Wewer said.

The tournaments are broken up into four divisions: novice, junior varsity, varsity and pro. Students compete individually and as a team of two.

“The tournaments are set up with a public speaking format of debate,” Adkins said.

The International Public Debate Association awards points for argumentation, speaking skill, courtesy and organization. The debate format is designed to build public speaking skills.

“This style of debate is about using research and facts in the framework of good public speaking skills,” said Adkins. “It is the most real world style of debate.”

The team is preparing for its next tournament at University of Central Arkansas. This is the team’s last tournament before the Madison Cup. The Madison Cup is an invitation only tournament held at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It is a one-day tournament held on April 16.

“Arkansas Tech is guaranteed one team for competition,” Adkins said.

This tournament is “unlike the tournaments the team has competed in in the past.” Each team gets two months to prepare their case over a certain topic. This year’s topic is universal health care.

This will be the team’s first year to compete at the Madison cup. Adkins has many “good debaters on the team” but has not chosen a team to compete in the tournament yet. In addition to skill and past performance, he is weighing his decision heavily on giving seniors and upperclassmen a chance to experience the tournament because they will not get this opportunity again.

During this tournament, the team will get the chance to compete against teams from Ivy League schools, Adkins said.

“If we can hold our own against that level of competition and that level of student, then I think that speaks volumes about what we are doing here,” Adkins said.