SMU Debate Wins Top Honors in Baytown and Kansas City
First-time debaters from Meadows log wins
In the first contest of the season, Stephen Frantz (B.A. Political Science, B.A. Philosophy ’20) won First Speaker designation in the Varsity Division at the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) tournament held September 16-18 at Lee College in Baytown, Texas. SMU Debate team members Corbin Adamson (B.S. Computer Science, B.S. Applied Mathematics ’20) and SMU student Grace Reon also competed.
The tournament tested students’ skills as they were given impromptu debate topics ranging from patent law to politics and international affairs, and allowed 30 minutes in which to prepare their responses. Speaker awards were based on points assigned by judges for reasoning, delivery, cross examination skills and refutation.
Frantz said the experience had a positive impact. “Participating in IPDA's debate league is expanding the skills I've learned through high school debate by teaching me to think even more quickly on my feet than in a usual policy or value debate,” he said. “I'd like to go into law, so developing my speaking, critical thinking and quick responses is crucial to my success in that field.”
Jaden Warren (B.A. Public Policy and B.S. Economics with Financial Applications, ’17), was named IPDA’s top speaker in the nation last season and serves as a student coach to this year’s competitors. According to Warren, debate has been the single most impactful element of his education. “It taught me to communicate the complex concepts of academia in a way that anyone can understand,” he said. Warren is looking forward to working on future contests with SMU Debate. “As Stephen’s win indicates, there’s a lot of great talent on our team,” he said.
Meadows Novice debaters tackle climate policy
SMU Novice Division policy debaters also did well at a tournament held at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, September 16-19. Candi Bolden (B.A. Journalism, B.A. Communication Studies ’17) and Sara Fitussi (B.A. Communication Studies, B.A. French ’17) won two out of six debates and gave the tournament champions from Illinois College their only loss of the tournament. Lawrence Boyd (B.A. Creative Computing ’20) and Visakh Madathil (B.S. Economics, B.S. Computer Science and B.A. Public Policy ’20) advanced to the semifinals before losing to Johnson County Community College. Madathil won Third Speaker overall for the tournament.
The Kansas City competitors debated the topic “Resolved: The United States Federal Government should establish a domestic climate policy, including at least substantially increasing restrictions on private sector emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States.” SMU advocated adoption of a carbon tax when they were on the affirmative side and argued the economic dangers of environmental regulation when on the negative side.
Madathil said that through debate, he has developed communication and critical thinking skills. “It helped me view things through various viewpoints, allowing me to obtain a wider understanding of concepts,” he said. “Keeping this open mind is helping me learn in my courses and is setting me up for my career after SMU. The lessons learned through debate have been vital to my education so far.”
All four SMU debaters, who had never debated before, defeated competitors with prior debate experience.
SMU Debate is directed by Dr. Ben Voth, associate professor in the Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Division of Meadows School of the Arts.
Read more about SMU Debate. SMU Debate is headquartered in Meadows School of the Arts Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs.