By J.T. Buchheit
The debate team at the college has consistently been among the best in the nation for a number of years, routinely defeating universities around the country. In their most recent debate, on Oct. 17 and 18, the team traveled to two tournaments and won multiple awards. Debate coach Justin Stanley has received plenty of credit for the team’s success.
“[Stanley] is an incredible source of support and cohesion on the squad,” said student Daniel Plott, a member of the team. “He’s the most engaged and concerned educator I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, and just an all-around outstanding role model on how to be a good, hard-working person.”
Stanley, however, credits the team’s effort and desire to keep improving as the main reason for the team’s sustained success.
“We work very hard and spend a lot of time and effort constructing the best argument possible and working hard to improve our debate skills,” Stanley said. “Our assistant coach, Dan Stout, does a great job getting the team prepared each week. So it’s really a combination of hard work and the work of our assistant coach.”
There are two types of competitive debate formats the team participates in: the National Debate Tournament–Cross-Examination Debate Association (NDT-CEDA) program and the National Forensics Association–Lincoln-Douglas Debate (NFA-LD) program.
“[NDT-CEDA] is a two-person vs. two-person policy format,” Plott said. “So we have the same resolution the whole year, which is essentially the question that we debate. We also have an NFA-LD program, which is one person vs. one person. The NFA-LD is probably preferable to those who are newer to debate, who are just trying to get acclimated to the activity. … It’s our first year having that program, and so far that squad’s had a lot of success.”
This year, the resolution involves the withdrawal of troops from various parts of the world. There are multiple facets of this topic that can be subject to debate.
“A lot of it has to do with the benefits and drawbacks of troop withdrawal or reduction of military forces,” said Stanley. “We also debate political issues that surround that particular topic, a lot of philosophical issues that surround that topic, such as capitalism or feminism. So the resolution is really focused on reduction of military presence throughout the world, but embedded within that topic of discussion is a host of other smaller topics that students learn about and research.”
Any group that gets together for competitive activities should have a harmonious atmosphere, and Plott believes that is a strength for his team. He also thinks the team is a great way to make new friends and connect with others.
“As far as the team dynamic goes, there’s a good squad atmosphere,” said Plott. “Everyone gets along really well. I don’t think we have any type of tension on the squad or anything of that nature. And it’s really good for building relationships like networking further down the road, because you get to meet a lot of people, not only on your squad, but on other college campuses as well.”
Besides improving his debate skills, Plott has received many other valuable skills from his experience on the team.
“It’s certainly helped me with research skills, because you have to engage in research in order to build argumentation and lines of arguments that you will then deploy in the debate round,” he said. “[Also] critical thinking, because you have to make strategic decisions in the debate round to do the best you can to win it. That, and myself, I’m naturally an introvert, and it’s really good to find a way to utilize that more as an asset and figure out a way to still communicate interpersonally while maintaining your boundaries as a person.”
According to Stanley, to join the debate team, one must sign up for a debate class. Prior debate experience is not required in order to be part of the squad. Contact Stanley at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.