The UR Debate team had a solid showing at their regional championship last weekend, which included several members making elimination rounds and one earning a Top Speaker award.

UR participates in two distinct debate formats Policy and Worlds. In Policy debate, one topic is debated for the entire academic year, and teams must do extensive research throughout the year to develop their argument on the subject. In Worlds format, on the other hand, a different topic is chosen for each event, and teams have just 15 minutes to prepare their argument.

The University fields novice and JV teams in both types, and Varsity teams in the Policy format. In both Policy and Worlds, members debate in teams of two.

In the Policy format, all the novice teams and one JV team made it to the elimination rounds of the regional championships. Two of the novice teams took second and third place in the tournament. In Worlds, which the University has only been participating in for two years, all three teams were just one ballot away from the elimination rounds.

UR Debate Director Ken Johnson expects that, with another year of practice under their belts, UR’s Worlds teams will make it to the elimination rounds next year.

Ranked No. 11 in the nation coming into the championship, the performance of the team has vaulted UR Debate into the top 10 teams in the nation. According to the latest National Debate Tournament rankings, UR is now the No. 7 team in the country.

Freshman Sean Delehanty won the Top Speaker award at the regional championship, which included teams from across the northeast.

‘The speaker award was defiantly gratifying, but I know that my own success is directly tied to all the help the team has given me,” Delehanty said of the award.

Johnson stressed that one of the keys to the UR Debate’s success is the fact that, unlike other nationally ranked schools, the team is open to anyone.

‘The beauty of the UR team is that we are a big tent,” Johnson said. ‘We are one of the largest teams in the nation and we take anybody, even people without previous experience.”

Even with its young team, UR Debate continues to improve in rankings. Last year, the team ended the season ranked 40th in the nation.

‘That number doesn’t sound great, but everybody worked hard and did their best,” Johnson said. ‘It has been great to see the team mature and put out the effort this year.”

The team’s accomplishments at the regional championship are by no means the only successes UR Debate has had this year. Back in October, a team consisting of Delahantey and freshman Muran Zhu defeated Cornell University to win a tournament at the University of Vermont. Team President and senior Rona Yang and sophomore Vijay Kasschau also won the Varsity division over Vermont at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst tournament.

In addition, there were a handful of Best Speaker awards won throughout the season.

According to Johnson, debate can be much more than just an academic experience.

‘Often, a debate partner becomes a friend for life,” he said. ‘Debaters learn loads of lifetime skills, like critical thinking, [effective] research and teamwork.”

Fleming is a member of
the class of 2013.

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