By Laura Chang
Published: November 17, 2010
Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)’s Gannon Speech and Debate club, Fordham’s only competitive policy and debate team, has landed its first championship title at the Cape Cod Classic Tournament. The debate team attended three tournaments this fall: Binghamton University Season Opener Tournament, Cape Cod Classic Tournament and the 43rd Annual West Point Debate Tournament, according to Asha Cherian, the head coach and faculty advisor of the team.
“Gannon had an incredibly successful semester, bringing home the tournament championship from the Cape Cod Classic Tournament, 10 individual speaker awards and advancing multiple teams at each tournament to elimination rounds,” Cherian said.
She continued, “Even more impressive for Fordham Debate, at all three tournaments we attended every Fordham team in every division had an even or winning record, in some cases with multiple Fordham teams debating undefeated in the preliminary rounds with 6-0 records.”
In order to better understand the break down of these debate tournament, Cherian said, “policy debate is a two-on-two switch side, which means that each participant will debate as both affirmative and negative throughout each tournament, multiple division—which includes Novice, Junior Varsity and Varsity—evidence-based form of competitive debate.”
At the Cape Cod Classic Tournament, Julia Caldwell, FCLC ’13, and Michael Douglas, FCLC ’11, won first place in the novice division, winning the tournament.
According to Cherian, each year, there is a different national topic to start off the debates and the main focus this year is whether or not the U.S. federal government should increase immigration eligibility.
The members of the team, many of which are first timers, come from an array of majors and years, and they reflected on their successful semester as well as how being a part of the debate team has influenced their college experience.
Julia Caldwell, FCLC ’13, who currently majors in political science and philosophy, said, “A lot of people don’t realize how intricately philosophy is related to policy-making. Debate is the perfect place to learn how to synthesize philosophical ideas into practical as well as utopian solutions.”
“I was thinking of being a theater major,” said Sunny Khahera, FCLC ’14, “but after debate I became interested in philosophy so I may now double major in political science and philosophy because debate has increased my interest in politics, too.”
Tanner Rich, FCLC ’11, said, “I’m a philosophy major and I’ve learned through debate that what I do in philosophy is what I do in debate.”
“All philosophical arguments have an audience in mind,” Rich said. “You must pre-empt what your respondent will say, so you must break down the other person’s claims to maintain your theory, your argument.”
David Allen, FCLC ’12, is a transfer student and said, “I joined the debate team to meet people, people like me. I’m into policy and rhetoric and, in an age of fact overload, it is necessary to get to the heart of why facts are important and how to synthesize those facts.”
Aaron Kraut, FCLC ’14, said, “Debate has taught me how to make decisions extremely quickly on the spot.
“It’s also taught me how to evaluate arguments; throughout one debate, my partner and I might make 50 or 100 arguments, but we have to decide, between everything both of us said, which argument is most important, which strategy is best.”
Although the debate team has finished its tournaments for this semester, they are looking forward to what is to come in the spring. Cherian said, “We eagerly anticipate traveling all over the Northeast, all over the country, to tournaments.
The team’s upcoming tournaments include the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Tournament, the Novice and Junior Varsity National Championship Tournament at Towson University and the Varsity C.E.D.A. National Championship Tournament at Binghamton University.