Whitworth’s debate team competed in its third tournament amongst 24 schools at Linfield College in mid-November. Whitworth took second in their division, and fifth overall in speech and debate, which earned them their second sweepstakes award this season.
After years without having a debate team, this fall was the first semester that a team has represented Whitworth in a debate competition since the program previously ended.
Debate coach Michael Ingram was pleased with the team’s success. He said the Linfield tournament was only their third of the year, and is one of the hardest.
“This tournament is normally one of the largest and most competitive in the Northwest,” Ingram said. “These awards are particularly hard earned.
The debate team competes in the Northwest Forensics Conference. The conference does not segregate by the size of the university, putting the team up against schools such as Boise State University, Pacific Lutheran University, University of Washington and Willamette University.
Having debated in high school and college, Ingram said he is a full-on debate geek who was eager to bring the program back to Whitworth.
“We have won so many awards, so people definitely know we are back and taking names,” Ingram said.
So far the team’s strength has been in the new International Public Debate Association one-on-one debate format, Ingram said. Many students have earned individual trophies in that format.
“They are given five possible talks, and they go back and forth eliminating the topics until they are left with the last one, which they then debate,” Ingram said. “It is a relatively new form of debate, but at our second tournament all six students from Whitworth earned a trophy in that category, so it is clear we are making out mark.”
Previously ranked No. 10 in the country in 1995, Ingram said he is excited debate has been brought back to Whitworth and wants to see his team of eight expand.
“The team really functions well together,” Ingram said. “We have a great group of students who help and encourage one another.”
Ingram said he is proud of his team of students and their accomplishments in the three tournaments so far, and is eager to see their success at a national level.
Freshman Jacob Wilson has debated since the sixth grade and plans to continue all four years on the Whitworth debate team.
“Debate has given me the opportunity to get off of campus and make new connections with people,” Wilson said. “We really are a family.”
Wilson also said he appreciates the team’s direction, with its focus not solely based on the trophies the members bring home.
“We don’t strive on trophies, we aim for successful communication,” Wilson said. “That is what has led us to our success as a team and the team becoming a family.”
Wilson gives credit to debate not only for making him a better public speaker, but teaching him new knowledge of his surroundings.
“Debate makes you evaluate what it is you believe and why you believe it,” Wilson said. “It makes you want to learn about the world and reasonably consider everything.”
Senior Rachel Busick grew up in a small town and joined the Whitworth debate team without experience in competitions or tournaments.
“In high school I was on a very different debate team,” Busick said. “It was much more informal and we just talked about current events once a week.”
Busick said she wanted to join a debate team during her freshman year at Whitworth, and is happy to get that opportunity as the team reformed her senior year.
“I really appreciate all that debate has taught me,” Busick said. “It’s given me the chance to look at the opinions and positions of competitors and teammates differently.”
With plans of attending law school post graduation, Busick said the same things which draw her to law, drew her to debate.
“I really like just coming up with things to say back and using logical reasoning,” Busick said.
Busick said she encourages others to take part in the opportunity to join debate, noting there are multiple sides and many different categories in which one can get involved.
By Sydney Conner