Senior debater wins Julia Burke award

Two NT debaters named finalists for American Debate Association Award

Seniors+Brendan+Warshauer+and+MJ+Jones+working+on+compiling+resources+for+a+competition

Jones

Seniors Brendan Warshauer and MJ Jones working on compiling resources for a competition

Senior Mj Jones won the Julia Burke Award this year for excelling in debate competitions and maintaining friendships in the policy debate community despite the competitive atmosphere.

This annual award was established by the American Debate Association along with the Julia Burke Foundation. This award goes to the policy debater who most closely upholds the characteristics that she pursued while exhibiting her love for debate. The winner gets an individual trophy, a $2000 scholarship, and a $2000 donation to the charity of their choice.

Burke was a policy debater who passed away in a car crash in October of 1998. She pursued excellence and passion for debate, a commitment to helping others, and love and respect for the American Debate Association policy debate community.

It’s certainly a nice feeling because the award is supposed to be a reflection on the way that you’ve interacted with other people in the community and not necessarily just how many debates we’ve won or how we’ve done at tournaments”

— Warshauer

Policy debaters, coaches and judges nominate one individual, and the committee decides on three finalists. Senior Brendan Warshauer was also nominated as a finalist for the award.

The winner is chosen by vote, so every debater, school, and coach at the TOC (last tournament of the year), get a vote. 

 “While I certainly would attribute the competitive aspect of that award to all the work my partner [Warshuaer] and I do outside of debate, I also think there’s a large component of it that was being able to meet a lot of really nice people through debate,” said Jones.

Aside from the award being given to those who have excelled in competitions, it is rewarding for Warshauer to know that the award isn’t only based on one’s success.

“It’s certainly a nice feeling because the award is supposed to be a reflection on the way that you’ve interacted with other people in the community and not necessarily just how many debates we’ve won or how we’ve done at tournaments,” he said.

Over the course of the year, there have been fifteen tournaments made up of six to ten debates, and each year there is an overarching topic that debates are centered on.

“This year’s topic was that the United States federal government should substantially increase its protection of water resources in the United States. Half the debates you are affirming that topic and saying the US should do that, and in half the debates, you’re negating it and you’re saying you shouldn’t do that,” said Warshauer.

As partners, Jones and Warshauer have worked long and hard to prepare for the competitions after joining debate their freshman year.

“We are doing research all the time, and there’s certainly a lot of effort that’s put into preparing for the tournaments because there’s so many teams and they’re all making different arguments,” said Warshauer. “You need to be prepared with research for anything that anyone can say.”

Jones explained that a large part of preparing for these competitions is processing evidence to create files for certain arguments.

“This includes compiling a lot of articles, processing those articles so they’re easy to read. On top of file production, usually my partner and I try to do practice debates when we debate each other,” said Jones.

Many of the debates have been online for the past year, which has been difficult, especially since debates are interaction-based. Jones mentioned how they were still able to travel this year.

“It’s really fun, especially when we got to travel for tournaments, which we got to do a little bit this year, but I also just enjoy the actual activity of debating a lot.”

Both Jones and Warshauer hope to come back and coach for the New Trier debate in the future to continue their passion and love for debate.

“I am hoping to come back and coach for New Trier and judge rounds so I can go to tournaments and still see people. But I’m also going to miss debating, so that’s a nice way to still stay involved with the community and the team,” said Warshauer.