The Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raider Debate team has started off their season with a rhetorical bang.
The group of 40 students, who participate in both on- and off-campus competitions, is the largest to date in the debate team’s history.
“It is extremely large considering our modest budget. It is also large compared to similar-sized institutions,” said Dr. Patrick Richey, director of forensics and debate team coach.
During recent weekends, Blue Raider Debate has fared extremely in well on the road, traveling to the University of Southern Mississippi (Southern Miss) for the Hub City Swing and also to Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee, for the 13th annual Smoky Mountain Classic.
During the Hub City Swing, the debate team participated in International Public Debate Association (IPDA), Team International Public Debate Association (TIPDA) and National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) debate formats.
MTSU defeated TCU in the NPDA format, with freshman Chris Cowherd and debater Michael Tant taking top honors. Sophomore Jordan Nickell took top honors in the IPDA format with a 3-0 victory over the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Cowherd and Tant along with the team of seniors Abigail Barnes and Kiera Jackson led Blue Raider Debate to semifinal wins over Northeast Louisiana and Mississippi State University in the TIPDA format.
During the Smoky Mountain Classic MTSU took home the second place sweepstakes award, falling just two points behind Berea College.
The team also won many individual speaker awards, such as the beginning speaker awards for juniors Kryslin Williams and Bridget Cadmus.
Nickell, junior Skye Irish, and sophomore Breyhana Johnson were also some of the standouts for the event.
And just this past weekend, the team captured third the third place sweepstakes award at Union University Bulldog Classic in Jackson, Tennessee.
The impressive start has made Richey very proud of the team’s progress.
“I’m very proud of the squad. It has bonded and learned fast. Our seniors have been outstanding and alumni have come back to help, which shows a depth of commitment,” he said.
With two events down, Richey said the team will look to travel to two or three more events while actively participating in on-campus events such as the “Think Before You Vote” mock presidential debate event, which will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the State Farm Lecture Hall of the Business and Aerospace Building.
The event will feature a discussion among three top student debaters who will portray three contenders for the White House. A moderator will pose questions to students playing the roles of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson while attempting to avoid referring to tabloid topics or personal attacks.
Even though the debate team has been overwhelmingly successful thus far, Richey stated his goal for the team was still the same.
“We always aim to show MTSU in a positive national light. … Our ultimate goal is having better and more informed students who master the art of critical thinking,” he said.
For more information on Blue Raider Debate, contact Richey at 615-898-2273 or visit the team’s official website, http://www.mtsu.edu/debate.
— Steven Michael Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org)