Debate competition goes too far

editorial cartoon by Stephanie Lesniak
editorial cartoon by Stephanie Lesniak

Athletes at the University of La Verne and other NCAA schools are subject to strict rules regarding how long they are eligible to play. Athletes are eligible to actually participate for four years, but have five years in which to play the four, using one as a red-shirt year. If the athlete does not meet these guidelines the universities can be sanctioned by the NCAA.

These rules were established for fairness so that younger players could get their chance to play. Furthermore, they were put into place so that there would not be an unfair balance between teams.

None of these rules are in place for international debate. While there are rules at the national level as far as eligibility is concerned, there is only one rule on the international level-students need to have an affiliation with the university they are debating for.

In late December, the debate team will travel to Athens, Greece, to participate in the World Championships. The team will consist of two undergraduates, Sean Krispinsky and John Keller, and one student who has graduated, Scott Mac Kay. This will mean that one undergraduate student will not get the chance to gain experience at an international level.

According to Jason Sandford, the coach of the debate team, Mac Kay is registered for one unit, though he has already graduated, which will give him the affiliation with the school that is required to compete on an international level. Sandford said that the two reasons Mac Kay was chosen was because: 1. the vast majority of universities outside of the United States have debate teams that consist of graduate and doctorate students; and 2. This is a transitional year for the debate team and they want to provide further training to the newer debaters who have not debated on an international level. Furthermore, Sandford said it is a common practice for United States universities to have people debate who have already graduated or are graduate students.

What does this say about the state of debating at American universities? The chance to gain experience is the reason that most people go to college, especially at a smaller university such as the University of La Verne. The best way for the debaters to learn is to actually debate against other schools in actual competitions.

Using students who have already graduated just so the team can gain a competitive edge is no different than having alumni who work at professional newspapers write for the Campus Times just so we can win more awards. Awards and prestige are important because they make the University stand out. However, when it interferes with opportunities for undergraduates to learn, it goes too far.

It is a shame that international debate, as a whole has taken competition to this level because it sways debate teams like ULV’s to strive to keep up with the others.

The debate team needs to realize that much can be learned from experience. The University of La Verne football team would not have its less experienced players play against Bonita High School so they could learn how to play against the University of Redlands.

While the Campus Times does like to have the debate team win and be successful, and feels it would be exciting to place well at the international level, we feel it is more important for people to go through the learning process. After all, this is college.

Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Campus Times Editorial Board.

Stephanie Lesniak

Latest Stories

Related articles

Debate team hosts international ‘Battle of the Bandwidth’

The University of La Verne debate team hosted its first ever online, virtual debate last weekend.

Debaters face off over Latinx rights

Roughly 30 people attended the first public debate of the year that asked “Has the U.S. Constitution failed the Latinx Community?” Tuesday in LaFetra Auditorium.

Debaters consider the importance of libraries

Students held a debate in the Wilson Library Wednesday afternoon on the importance of libraries within communities. 

Palestinian debaters discuss teenage activist

Two ULV student debaters and two special guests from Palestine debated the actions of Ahed Tamimi, a teenage girl who rose to international prominence in 2017 after she was captured on a Facebook video kicking, punching and shoving a heavily armed Israeli soldier who was trying to enter her family home in West Bank, Palestine.