Danielle De Luna
The University of La Verne debate team tackled issues concerning effective social change at a debate tournament held at the University of Southern California last weekend.
Freshman political science major Mason Stackman won the first place speaker award.
Esilanna McMenamin, a freshman legal studies and political science major, partnered with Stackman. This was their first college debate tournament and their team took ULV to the semi-finals.
The tournament was a single topic civic debate focused on the 1968 East Los Angeles school walkouts.
Teams debated the efficacy of walkouts as a method of social change, referencing the past and the present.
“It was a look at where students can take and find power in a political system that does not hear their voice,” said Michael Eberle, debate team captain and senior sociology major. “Personally, I think La Verne does a really good job of not always tailoring our arguments to win, but to get to the heart of the matter.”
The topic of the debates were whether walkouts can function as an effective tactic for promoting social justice.
Stackman and McMenamin said their arguments against the topic won the most during the tournament. They focused on how the politicization of students can be harmful in a modern context.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s no longer about social justice, its about politics,” McMenamin said.
“There are better alternatives that don’t put students at the front,” Stackman said. “I think that there’s so many different avenues that people take, but I think the important thing is to create a unified body.”
McMenamin said the debate was productive because there were professionals present, offering an opportunity for education. These professionals included Dolores Delgado Bernal, who authored “Transforming Educational Pathways for Chicana/o Students: A Critical Race Feminista Praxis.”
Colin Coppock, a freshman behavioral science major, served as a judge on Saturday.
He said that some arguments during the competition became heated.
Eberle agreed, saying that the civic debate format incentivizes a different form of argumentation.
“Some focus on things that devolve the competition. There were some teams that targeted their arguments at female debaters. They are seen as weaker or less capable of performing successfully,” Eberle said.
Eberle praised the incoming freshman team members for their ability to adapt to ULV’s focus on debate as a truth seeking medium.
“They are so fantastic. They’ve come in with a real desire to broaden their knowledge” said Eberle. “What we’re trying to do is have the best discussion possible.”
The debate team will head to San Diego State University for another tournament this weekend.
Danielle De Luna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.