Successful 2015-16 for Debate Team

Cal Poly Debate Team 2015-16
Members of the 2015-16 Cal Poly Debate Team display their silverware

This year has been the Cal Poly Debate Team’s most successful year of competition in the British Parliamentary Debate format - the format used in the World Universities Debate Championship (WUDC) and the U.S. Universities Debate Championship (USUDC).

In April, communication studies majors Brooke Matson and Euni Kim, political science major Emilio Horner, and Cal Poly Open University student DC Wright represented Cal Poly at the 2016 USUDC hosted by Morehouse University in Atlanta. This was the first time that a historically Black college or university hosted the event. The teams earned their place in the championship after finishing as semifinalists in the U.S. Universities Western Region Championship, hosted by Cal Poly in March.

Cal Poly’s team finished in the top 10 teams at the April USUDC competition, with Horner and Wright placing as quarter finalists after nine debate rounds and facing teams from Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, USC, UCLA, The Claremont Colleges, Duke, John Hopkins, Tufts and Brown.

With regard to the team’s success, Cal Poly’s Director of Forensics Chris Skiles reports, “There is a level of skill that one achieves in debate at which there is very little difference between the competitors. At this level of competition nearly anyone could take the win in any round, and the debate's result is the outcome of highly pedantic collaborative assessments among the judges. Our students achieved that level of competition, and we are exceptionally proud of our students and would like to congratulate them on the fruits of all their hard work. This marks three years in a row that Cal Poly debaters have been a dominant force in our region, and now we’ve established ourselves as a force on the national stage.”

As a part of the USUDC, Morehouse University also hosted The America’s Cup, a master’s tournament founded by the late Dr. Alfred “Tuna” Snider as an educational endeavor. This tournament is a one-day, single-elimination tournament judged by students that pits accomplished current and former debaters and current coaches against each other to demonstrate high skilled debate performances. Cal Poly’s Assistant Director of Forensics, John Patrick, partnered with Josh Martin, his debate partner from his undergraduate days, to compete. They finished as semifinalists in a very skilled and talented field of competitors!

It is worth mentioning that Cal Poly debaters aren’t satisfied with just being regionally and nationally competitive. The Cal Poly Debate Team is exceptionally committed to elevating public discourse and is happy to organize public debates on campus for classes, clubs, and faculty events, and for the wider San Luis Obispo community. This past fall the program held demonstration debates for the San Luis Obispo Rotary Club and a kinesiology class, and in the winter the debate team partnered with the College of Engineering and Northrup Grumman to put on a public debate as part of Engineering Week. In addition to these demonstration debates, the debate program once again held its intramural debate tournament for Cal Poly students.

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