The University of La Verne debate team hosted its first ever online, virtual debate last weekend.
Titled “Battle of the Bandwidth,” the tournament consisted of 28 teams, 56 participants in total, from universities including UC Berkeley, Cornell and other international universities. The tournament’s judging pool included judges from Asia, Australia, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe and across the United States. The ULV team decided to give everyone a break during these stressful times by making the tournament all about pop culture.
The debate team from Regis University in Colorado took the championship title over the weekend by winning the final round with an argument in support of Batman killing his parents, Thomas and Martha, in an alternate timeline where he stumbles upon them in an alley, in order to become the superhero that he is. Opposing arguments by the Cornell University team focused on the idea that killing two innocent individuals for an uncertain future does not correspond with Batman’s morals.
The tournament was full of pop culture topics such as the Star Wars, Harry Potter, female gamer demographics, Pokemon and, of course, Batman. However, the debate team did not stop there, they also decided to host a costume contest for all the participants.
Although the weekend-long tournament was fun and friendly, the logistics of putting together an online event of this scale was difficult to say the least.
Director of forensics and debate team coach Robert Ruiz said the process for hosting a debate online was nothing less than a “pain in the ass.”
“I don’t have my debaters here to help me. I used some of them to assign projects but when you’re going online, this is new for all of us,” Ruiz said.
Although the tournament was a success, with the championship team winning over $1,000 to donate to their local charity, Ruiz says a debate tournament of this scale online would be too much to handle on a regular basis.
This tournament served as one last send-off tournament for the senior debaters, something sophomore political science major and debater Esilanna Mcmenamin said was very important to have right now.
“A lot of our tournaments were canceled due to the pandemic and this was a way to allow seniors to debate before the end of the semester,” Mcmenamin said. “This was also a fun way to make quarantine feel a little less daunting. It also gave us an opportunity to reconnect with our debate friends across the country.”
Kacee Jones, senior political philosophy major, said she was proud to be part of this special experience.
“I think we’ve always been known in the debate community for being avant-garde, so this is a prime example of that,” Jones said. “Especially with all the little creative elements such as the costume contest and more entertaining speech. I feel happy to send my team off on this note.”
Sophomore speech communications major Alec Jahanvash said he was proud to be part of a new way for the debate community to thrive in such uncertain times.
“I think it’s awesome how a lot of organizations can use this critical thinking to figure out how we can still function. In the future even after social distancing requirements, we should still do online tournaments. No one has to travel,” Jahanvash said. “I think coming up with this shows the collegiate debate community is a pillar within the debate community.”
Aaron Arellano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.