This past weekend, in a tournament at the University of Conway-Arkansas, the ORU debate team brought home several awards.
Jake Ethington was the champion of the varsity division, Jamia Matthews was an octa-finalist and Karina Salcedo was a quarterfinalist. Communication professor and team sponsor Denise Miller received a judging award for an exceptional ballot, and ORU got an award for the second best winning percentage at the tournament.
At the beginning of the month, the debate team traveled to Arkansas Tech University (ATU) and returned with a host of both individual and team awards. ATU hosted three different tournaments throughout the weekend, all of which ORU competed in.
Co-Captain Jake Ethington was a finalist in the varsity division and a finalist with his partner Cheyenne McKee in another tournament. In addition, Ethington and McKee won the other team tournament that weekend.
Jonathan Naylor was a finalist in the novice division and second place speaker as well as a semi-finalist in the team division with Luke Wyatt. Naylor was also named fifth place speaker. Karina Salcedo also brought home an award for being a quarterfinalist in the JV division.
But the awards don’t stop there. Luke Wyatt was a quarterfinalist and also claimed first place speaker in the novice division, and McKee was a semi-finalist in the varsity division. The team finished in second place overall.
Lastly, Polo Mann was a quarterfinalist in the varsity division at the Oklahoma Interstate Forensics Association tournament on Feb. 22.
With great success to end the season, the ORU debate team is looking forward to another great semester in the fall.
But what does that mean? Here’s a breakdown of what debate teams do at a tournament:
Debate teams must master a form of debate that is commonly used, including affirmative, negation, cross examination, rebuttals, refutation, speaker points and more.
To get things started, competitors are paired up in a bracket and then a coin is flipped to decide who will be affirming the selected resolution and who will be negating it. The sides are determined, and both competitors are given a small slip of paper with five different topics on it.
The negation strikes first until, one by one, all of the topics are crossed off until one stands alone. The final topic standing becomes the resolution for the round.
After returning from the draw with their new topic, it’s common to see competitors running through the hallway to maximize the available time they have to prepare.
Given only 30 minutes, every second counts. Preparation is marked by the fluttering of sticky notes with small pieces of evidence and intense Google searches to find the best possible way to argue a respective side.
Once the 30 minutes is up, the competitors head to the designated rooms to begin their debate. The affirmative and the negative sides take turns speaking. The affirmative gets five minutes for constructive speech before the negation cross examines the affirmative for two minutes. The negation then speaks for six minutes, followed by the affirmative’s cross examination.
Throughout the round, there is a judge in the room who is taking notes and following along with the arguments on each side. The affirmative has the burden of proof, which means they must provide evidence to defend the resolution, while the negation must combat the evidence to prove it wrong.
Once both sides have used their time, the judge makes his or her decision based on the weighing mechanism of the round, which are decided by the affirmative and could possibly include preponderance of logic, probability of truth, or simply on balance, meaning whichever side has the heaviest argument wins.
The judge then fills out the ballot given to them by the tournament director and returns the ballot to the ballot table. After one round is complete, draw immediately begins again and the cycle starts over.
Now, repeat that cycle eight times a day and that’s the preliminary round of a debate tournament.
Photo provided by ORU Debate