Danielle De Luna
The debate team swept first and second place at the UCLA Invitational Tournament last weekend and placed in finals Nov. 3-4 against East Coast competitors at the University of Vermont.
At UCLA, debate team captain and senior sociology major Michael Eberle and senior speech communications and political science major Sarah Osuna won the final competition against UC Berkeley, Point Loma Nazarene University and another University of La Verne team.
Their team provided the closing government argument for a motion supporting states’ rights to oppose the Supreme Court.
“It was high pressure, because as closing government you say the last thing your team has to say and then it’s over,” Osuna said. “I walked out not knowing what was going to happen.”
Eberle provided a solid foundation to set up the round, Osuna said.
“We focused on the future of democracy and voter turnout,” Osuna said. “I provided what’s called the whip speech after Michael spoke in order to reaffirm what he said and show why the other teams were wrong.”
Director of Forensics Robert Ruiz said tournaments like these give him a chance to experiment with new team pairings.
“This was an opportunity for me to see how Michael and Sarah work together in preparation for World Championships,” Ruiz said. “They work well together. They were able to not only say why they are correct but why the other side is wrong.”
Sophomore political science major Adam Pepper and freshman journalism major Alondra Campos won second place, providing the opening government statement supporting the motion.
“Since we both made it to the finals, the goal was to get one of our teams to win,” Pepper said.
Campos said Pepper gave her the support and confidence she needed to perform well in her first college competition.
“My want to learn and his advice really meshed,” Campos said. “The most important thing I learned is that, even if you are new, you should give it your all; give it your best.”
ULV took two teams to the Huber Debates in Vermont Nov. 3-4, both of which finished in finals.
Eberle and Fares Abdullah, a junior political science and speech communications major, outwitted a number of prestigious schools such as Cornell and Colombia.
“We really tried to focus on creating healthy discussion,” Eberle said. “Whenever we go to East Coast tournaments we do our best to get to know everyone.”
Debaters across the country are working to phase out elitism that lingers in the Ivy League debate circuit, Eberle said.
“The elitism of some schools can devolve the discussions we have,” Eberle said. “That’s why we try so hard to discuss these equity issues and make friends with other teams and establish a connection.”
Ruiz said winning always comes second to creating a culture of belonging within debate.
“We can win two tournaments but we’re still going to hang out with you if this is your first tournament,” Ruiz said. “Because of this I can say that I not only have debaters, but ambassadors.”
The debate team will head to Brandeis University in Massachusetts Dec. 1-2 for its final tournament of the semester.
Eberle and Osuna will compete in the World Universities Debating Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, Dec. 27 through Jan. 4.
Danielle De Luna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.