MTSU team serves up ‘mixed plate’ of debate

MTSU team serves up ‘mixed plate’ of debate

The rejuvenated MTSU Debate Team is welcoming the public to its annual “Mixed Plate Debate” on Wednesday, Feb. 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the State Farm Room of the University’s Business and Aerospace Building.

The event, open to the public, will split the team into three groups, each of which will represent one of the top candidates for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. The teams will then debate various political topics, defending their assigned candidates’ own views on subjects like war and the national budget.

Like the University, the MTSU Debate Team is celebrating its centennial year. Recently it’s been undergoing an overhaul under the guidance of new coach Dr. Patrick Richey, who joined the MTSU faculty in fall 2011 in the Department of Speech and Theatre as a professor of communication studies.

By attending just one of the team’s semiweekly practices, it’s apparent that MTSU’s debaters are thriving under Richey’s coaching. A stop sign that says “Don’t STOP Believin'” hangs on the chalkboard—precisely the idea on which Richey bases his coaching, believing that there’s always room for improvement.

“I’d like to see us win more speaker awards,” he says, emphasizing that MTSU’s debaters are already “arguing really well” as a team. The trophies filling the practice room’s shelves confirm that.

The team members—about 30 total, but not all compete at the same events—seem to function like a family. Richey explains that such is normal for a debate team, who spend many weekends riding in a van, eating and competing together while they travel to tournaments.

Dr. Patrick Richey

Richey says the team has plans to host another “Mixed Plate Debate” this fall to coincide with the 2012 presidential election.

The Mixed Plate Debate is a great opportunity for the University community to watch hard-working team members in a more laid-back atmosphere than at their customary out-of-town tournaments. Don’t expect them to be too laid-back, however; even when they’re having fun, this group is passionate and serious about debating.

Observing the Mixed Plate Debate may expose audience members to useful knowledge, too.

“I believe it’s every citizen’s duty and obligation to be an informed voter,” Richey says, “especially college students. They are tomorrow’s leaders and it is critical that they understand and participate in the election process.”

For more information about the MTSU Debate Team, including team photos and its spring schedule, visit A special exhibit on the Debate Team’s Centennial year, “Veneratio Pro Victoria,” will be on display at the James E. Walker Library on campus through March 1.

— Rachel Nutt (