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Home Arts & Culture Concordia speech & debate team holds Day of Debate

Junior Cohen Carpenter stands next to his tall trophy from the International Public Debate Association individual contest. 

Photo credit: Concordia University Nebraska – Forensics

By Josiah Horvath


Concordia’s speech & debate team had an in-house event called Day of Debate that included two tournaments occurring side-by-side, with Cohen Carpenter winning the International Public Debate Association individual contest and Team Megan Lange and Quinlan Hendrickson winning the National Parliamentary Debate Association event.

President Bernard Bull judged the final round of the IPDA style tournament, and Provost Tim Preuss judged the final round of the NPDA final round.

Students were given pre-selected topics called “claims” to debate. IPDA style students were given 30 minutes to prepare and NPDA style students were given 15 minutes to prepare.

Sophomore Matthew Koenig participated in the NPDA style tournament with his teammate, Thomas McKinnon.

“You don’t know what they’re (the opponent) going to say,” Koenig said. “You very rarely predict exactly what they are going to say. You try to prepare yourself for what they might say.”

Claims ranged from “Democracy is desired” and “Smartphones make our lives better” to “Michael Jordan is the GOAT” and “Window Seats are Better than Aisle Seats”, which was the last claim of the final round of the IPDA style tournament.

In IPDA and NPDA styles, both sides of an argument have a name. One side, called the “Affirmative,” argued for the claim, and the other side, called the “Negative,” argued against it. Debaters do not get to choose and may end up arguing a side that is the opposite of their own opinion.

“Both sides are supposed to argue for it [their side] even if they don’t believe it,” said Koenig. He added that the debates typically, however, do not turn personal.

“There are enough people in the world that there are two sides to every debate,” he said and added that sometimes having to argue for things you do not agree with can help you see how others think.

Head Speech & Debate Coach Joe Davis, a professor of English and of communication and theatre arts, praised the event’s success.

“[It] demonstrated not only the growth of [the] debate program and its expansion into an additional debate style, IPDA, but [also] it affirmed for the students the support they receive from administration.”

“We have similar competitive elements,” he said, referencing other sports groups. He said the difference is that Speech & Debate allows for engagement in conversation that may challenge and strengthen our beliefs.

Concordia graduate Eric Wallace said he valued many of his experiences on the speech & debate team.

“The friendships, the mutual support and encouragement, and the intellectual challenges” were some such factors, he said.

“So many current students on campus would enjoy this kind of intellectual discourse and our team is open to providing an opportunity to everyone,” Davis said.

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