Debate team starts off first year well

Rachel Mulder-Staff Writer

The Dordt debate team’s first year is in full swing. They have already competed in their first competition at South Dakota State University.

One team made it to the quarterfinal round at the Jackrabbit Jousts Debate Tournament the weekend of October 11 and 12.  Dordt’s team debated against 19 other teams from a dozen other schools.

Dordt has three debate teams: James Rylaarsdam and Michael Jansen, Adam Vander Stoep and Lee Ver Burg, and Courtney De Wolde and Jordan Swanson.

Junior debate team member, Lee Ver Burg, explained that each individual team of two debated four times with four other schools. If a team did well enough during those debates, they advance to the quarter finals.

The team consisting of juniors Adam Vander Stoep of Doon and Ver Burg of Rock Valley made it to the quarterfinal round. Vander Stoep was ranked the 10th best individual debater.

Coach, Donald Roth, assistant professor of criminal justice and business administration, said that the students who competed at the Jackrabbit Joust had a positive experience and are looking to recruit a few more students to join the team before the team’s next competition on November 1 and 2.

“With one of our teams finishing in the quarterfinals on our first outing in October, we’re off to a great start, and we’ll have to see how things go in November, but I am very proud of all the students, and it has been a lot of fun so far,” Roth said.

Discussion of forming a debate team began a couple years ago when English professor Mary Dengler approached Roth about creating a debate club aimed at Kuyper Scholar students.  Roth began meeting with a small group of students to talk about the topics of debate and persuasion.

There are many styles of debate and events that school debate teams compete in, but after some initial research Dordt’s team chose to compete in parliamentary debate.

“This style of debate involves teams of two students who are assigned opposite sides of a resolution.  One side (the government) must then develop an interpretation of the resolution and defend their plan against the other side (the opposition),” said Roth.

Teams are given their resolution fifteen minutes before the debate begins and usually do not have internet access or help from other sources while preparing their cases.  Teams take turns debating and each debate lasts approximately four to eight minutes.

“We chose this style of debate because it encourages students to develop the ability to articulate and critique arguments quickly and clearly.  Also, because teams are only aware of their topic for 15 minutes, the week to week time commitment is much lower than with other forms of debate,” said Roth.

The best way to prepare for this kind of debate is to be aware of what is happening in the world and Roth believes that is a good thing for every student to do.

The debate team practices every Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m. in room 1140 of the classroom building.


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