Debate hits final round in Nationals

Consistency and discipline were key, as members of the University of La Verne’s debate team advanced for the second year in a row to the Final Round at the United States National Championships, held this year in Portland, Ore.

The volatility of the competition left little room for ULV to be too comfortable with its title as National Champions last year.

However, the team continues to be a source of pride for ULV as it advanced to the final round of the National Championships on April 12 at Portland State University.

Among the seven two-person teams representing ULV, La Verne A, consisting of Rob Ruiz and Thomas Allison, survived a field of 60 teams to qualify for the final round to face Seattle University, the Claremont Colleges and eventual champion Loyola Marymount.

The team of La Verne D, Tyler Smith and Shana Murphy, narrowly missed the quarterfinal round and finished in 18th place.

“They were two slots away from making it to the quarter final,” said Ian Lising, debate team adviser and assistant professor of speech and debate.

In addition to the challenging task of knowing the latest in world affairs, the team members’ various academic majors also contributes to its track record of success in competition.

“We have people from the business school, law school and people in the graduate school for education,” Lising said.

Lising added that Ruiz and Allison did a wonderful job representing the school.

“I think they tried to defend our national championship,” Lising said.

This was Ruiz’s second time advancing to the final round. Last year the team of Ruiz and Josh Martin, current debate team captain, won the Championship.

Lising said the World Championship format requires extemporaneous motions, in that debaters are unaware until 15 minutes prior to the round what the motions are.

“It could be political, economic or social,” Lising said. “The way we prepare is we ask people to research a wide range of topics that are normally covered in the current events.”

Molding the information students learn in class and use in debate is a craft that requires tremendous creativity and practice.

“Our role is to get everybody on the same level where they know what they are talking about,” Lising said.

This year La Verne was on the opposition of the motion in the final round, which included the topic of whether the next U.S. President should pull our troops out of Iraq.

“It was really a high level final,” said Josh Martin, president of the debate team and speech communication and political science major.

“I thought it was good for Thomas’ first time to be in a situation like that with hundreds of people watching and top debaters in the country,” Martin said.

In terms of how well Team A worked together, Allison, a first year ULV law student, who also earned his undergraduate degree here, felt he should have listened to his partner, Rob Ruiz’s speech a little more.

“I kind of went more with what I had on paper before we spoke, as opposed to what he actually said during his speech,” Allison said.

The team does not harbor much disappointment with the results of the competition.

Instead, the unique fervor which makes up the team was among the four universities in the final round of the National Championships is proof that ULV remains a consistent competitor to be reckoned with.

Tiffany Vlaanderen can be reached at

Tiffany Vlaanderen
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