By HANNAH GALEONE
Last Wednesday on Oct 21, the UMW Debate Team hosted the British National Team and went head-to-head in a heated competition in Monroe Hall Room 116. The event was part of the 2015 British Debate Tour and sponsored by both the National Communication Association and the Committee on International Discussion and Debate (CIDD).
UMW was selected to be a part of the eight-week tour along with Pennsylvania State University, Colgate University and Cornell University. This debate was the fourth to be held at UMW’s Fredericksburg campus during the fall 2015 semester. Freshmen Parker Coon and Gabriel Lewis represented the UMW Debate Team during the competition. Lewis’ first exposure to the UMW Debate Team was during his senior year of high school.
“I heard about the UMW Debate Team through the Director of Debate, Adrienne Brovero. I was placed in her lab before my senior year of high school and we talked about the possibility of me debating in college.” said Lewis. Lewis ended up joining the UMW community “to continue [his] debate career at a collegiate level.”
Brovero is well versed in the world of debate and has had a great deal of experience with them in her career. In 1996, as a graduate student, Brovero had the opportunity to compete against the visiting Japanese opponent as a part of the National Debate Tournament. This is something she considers as part of her desire to bring competitions to UMW.
“Last fall we decided it would be a good idea to get involved in the tour [again] as a way to showcase the value of public debate to the UMW community. So, this was our second year in a row in which UMW was selected to host the British team.” Brovero said.
Both Brovero and Lewis advocate for the continuation of debate at UMW because of the positive aspects that it brings to students, faculty and overall campus life. Debate is something they feel can help students and non-students improve their basic life skills.
“The benefits of debate vary from debater to debater, but probably the most prominent skills debate helps to develop are critical thinking, research, public speaking, and teamwork. Students compete in pairs, which helps to develop interpersonal skills as part of a larger team – win or lose,” Brovero said. Lewis also strongly urges others to get involved.
“Debate is an incredible activity and I would encourage anyone interested in research, public speaking, or argumentation to pursue it. Debate improves critical thinking tremendously and gives individuals the opportunity to learn both sides of an argument. These skills translate to better study techniques, more effective and persuasive public speaking, and improved essay writing,” Lewis said.
UMW will remain active in the debate community and hopes to improve the team and competitions in the future. The Debate Team will be competing three more times this semester, traveling to tournaments at Liberty University, Winston-Salem, the Franklin R. Shirley Classic and the American Debate Association Fall Championship. The university also has plans to get involved in public debates, both on campus and at other locations, but they are still in the initial stages.