Debate dominates state

Debate students bring home first place trophies at IHSA tournament

Ben Morrissey

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The New Trier Debate Team dominated this year’s state championships on Mar 17 and 18 by winning first place in both the Lincoln Douglas and Policy debates

The    Lincoln Douglas and Congress debates are individual events, whereas the policy debate is completed with teams of two.

For every debate, one side argues for the policy or topic in question and the other argues against it.

For the policy debate in this tournament, students argued whether or not the U.S should take foreign policy action on China. For the Lincoln Douglas debates, competitors argued whether housing is a right or not.

The topic of the debates change every two months so competitors might debate the same topic at multiple tournaments. This is important because the debates are filmed and this allows students to find out what arguments their opponents argued in the debate from a previous tournament.

Students do research on their arguments in strategy sessions to figure out what they might say and find the holes in their arguments.    

“We tailor our arguments to the types of strategies our opponents are likely to deploy based on what they’ve argued throughout the season since September,” Buckman explained.

   According to Buckman, when their opponents give arguments that they did not expect, they are forced to adjust their arguments on the spot.

“It happens sometimes, no matter how much we prep. We have to use research we’ve produced for other purposes and apply it to new arguments,” Buckman said.

Once the debaters have done their research and have all of the information they need to compete, they participate in mock debates.

During the debates students must pay close attention to what their opponents are saying, along with notes to help them conduct their own arguments.

After the debate, a panel of judges look over the notes they took during the debate to decide a winner.

The judges take a long look at their notes before deciding who they believe won the debate. If there is a clear winner in the debate, it can take only 5 or 10 minutes to decide the winner. However, if the debate is close, it can take 20 or 30 minutes to decide the winner.

“This is my least favorite part of the debate. I always think we lost. It’s really nerve-wracking,” Buckman said.

For this tournament, the two New Trier students did not have to wait long to find out who won the debates, as they convincingly won their debates 5-0.

According to Vinson, one of the best parts was celebrating their victories at the end.

“It was great to see kids hold the trophy at the end,” Vinson said.

Buckman credited the work that the entire debate team did for her victory.

“I was so happy for my whole team. Everyone put in a lot of effort to make it happen and it was really rewarding.” Buckman said.

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