The UR debate team came out with flying colors in their first tournament held at Cornell University from Jan. 28 to 30.

“It was awesome – we did really well,”Director of the Debate Union Ken Johnson said.

Both the teams that made it to the finals were from UR, which resulted in UR securing the first place.

The team has consistently been in the top five places in the country and is looking forward to another promising season.

Senior Steve D’Amico was the first speaker in the varsity division. Junior Pat Hitchcock was one of the top 10 speakers in the JV division while freshmen Johanna Smith and John Elkin were in the top 10 speakers in the novice division.

“You have to do exceedingly well in the initial six preliminary rounds to be able to advance to the finals,”Johnson said. “They cleared the semi-finals by defeating the University of Vermont and Bard College, to result in a close out that brought us victory. We even received a standing ovation.”

Some of the other universities that also took part were Columbia University, SUNY Buffalo, New York University, and Marist College. “This is the first time we’ve had a close out this year.,” Johnson said.

Johnson deemed the win even more commendable because the winners were students who came in as novices with no high school experience whatsoever.

“They were all beginners who commited so intensively for four years that they now have a top level win to their credit,”Johnson said. “This is really note-worthy. He hailed this win as an exclamation point in their careers.”

The topic for debate teams in universities across the nation is fuel energy conservation.

“We are trying to come up with policies to reduce the fuel consumption in the country,” Johnson said.

Some of the other tournaments that the Debate Union will be competing include the varsity level championship in San Francisco, and the novice and JV level national championship at Georgetown University.

Vice President of the Debate Union Mike Morosi believes that the Debate Union has the potential to clinch the number one spot again. “My freshman year, we were number one in the nation,” Morosi said. “I really hope we can get back to there again. We had two tournaments, in West Virginia and West Point, and we did really well.”

“We’re always encouraging people to come into the team,” Johnson said. “We’re not looking for top-notch debaters who have excelled through high school – we like to get folks off the street and help them reach their heights.We’re only waiting for the next champion to stumble across our door.”

Krishnan can be reached at

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