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Debate club holds tourney for forensics

The College’s Society for Parliamentary Debate club held its first of three high school forensics league tournaments on Saturday, Nov. 2 in buildings across campus.

The tournaments are a significant fundraising opportunity for the club.

“It’s a great fundraiser for us,” junior physics major and president of the club Andrew Miller said. “The fundraiser is for transportation to our U.S. tournaments.”

Transportation costs and minor expenses, such as food at meetings, are not included in the club’s budget, directed and organized by the Student Finance Board, Miller said. With help from their coaches, the Society for Parliamentary debate planned the entire event.

“(The event) is going pretty well,” Miller said. “We’ve seen a lot of talented people.”

The club hopes that by facilitating tournaments for high school students, many students will apply to the College and join the Society for Parliamentary Debate club.

Thirteen different high schools from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania competed in the event-filled day, participating in three different categories: Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas and Congregational Debate.

There were four rounds to every category, thus creating a chaotic day of judging and scoring.

Three judges, one or two being club members, judged the high school students’ arguments based on logic and speech presentation.

Regardless of who won, the debaters received points that combined scores with other members from their schools.

Not only did the winners of the final round receive awards, but high schools were also presented awards based on their final number of points.

In the semifinal round of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, two students disputed over the extent of attorney-client privilege in the process of prosecution.

Before each student presented his or her case during the debate, the speaking student politely asked the judges and opponent if they were ready.

After this confirmation, students received three to six minutes to express any evidence of their arguments or counterarguments. Those minutes were filled with no pauses. It was a nonstop run of information.

As the timer beeped, indicating the end of the time slot, attendees saw judges and students alike exhale with relief.

Though each student presented their argument passionately, the negative side was declared the winner.

The affirmative and negative sides are chosen at random before every meet.

Any student participating in this debate subject needed to know the topic inside-out.

“That’s why it’s so hard,” sophomore biology major Farrah Liu said. “You have to train your mind not to be biased because it will be a lot harder to debate the other side.”

The debate allowed students to gain confidence in public speaking and helped them organize relevant information to present in a clear argument.

“The goal of today is to facilitate debate in high school debating leagues,” Miller said. “I think the day (was) a success.”


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