Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Debate & Forensics Team Hosts National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence

As the last weeks of April fade into final courses, exams and projects, Whitman’s Debate and Forensics team prepares for the first tournament held at Whitman in a number of years. The team will host nine other colleges and universities over the weekend of April 27 and 28 as they compete in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE), a prestigious tournament which draws competitors and attendees from across the country.

Kiefer Storrer, the Assistant Director of Debate and Forensics, looks forward to the tournament as a full circle moment for Whitman Debate and Forensics.

“In 2001, Whitman actually hosted the first NPTE here in Walla Walla, so it’s cool that after 23 years the NPTE is back on Whitman’s campus — that’s really exciting to come back into fruition,” Storrer said.

The team also plans on awarding competitors a new honor while they attend the tournament as a celebration of this full-circle moment.

“We have a special award that we’ll be giving out to the team that accrued the most points over the season, in recognition of us now hosting [the tournament] again after hosting the first one,” Storrer said.

According to Storrer, the NPTE is scheduled for the end of the season so that attendees can participate without other conflicting competitions during the national tournament season.

Clearing schedule conflicts with other competing schools will allow Whitman’s team to debate against institutions from across the country, ranging from Northern California to Kansas.

“Often times we compete against those bigger institutions in Debate and Forensics, whereas that wouldn’t be something that happens at the sport level. So that’s always really cool to have a small but really talented squad that we bring forth against these massive behemoths of bigger institutions,” Storrer said.

Like Storrer, sophomore competitor Sophia Pilling sees the range of attending schools as an opportunity for debaters to improve their skills.

“It’s nice to gain access to different people and their ways of doing debate versus ours, it’s always interesting to see how other people structure their debates and how the rules differ from place to place,” Pilling said.

The structure of debate remains the same, though, and Jas Liu, who will be competing in the tournament, says the NPTE presents the unique opportunity to prepare arguments in the weeks prior to the competition. Ordinarily, Whitman parliamentary teams compete in two-person teams that receive a topic 25 minutes before a round. However, for the NPTE teams will prepare for one of five topics selected by the tournament’s board prior to the competition. For Liu and other competitors, preparation for this tournament means researching a topic and expecting a multitude of opposing arguments.

“The preparation we’ll be doing is mostly researching. Because we actually have the topics in advance this time, we will be researching those topics and having arguments ready for both sides of the area, and then it’s just keeping up with the news and making sure that we are aware of current events,” Liu said.

In addition to the advantage of added time to consider their topic, Whitman’s debaters are also looking forward to hosting the event on campus.

“I think it’s awesome that Whitman is hosting. I don’t have to travel, I can just walk from my house to the tournament and afterwards I get to sleep in my own bed,” Liu said.

Whitman’s competitors also look forward to a competitive edge without the hour-long commute to the Tri-Cities airport, and flights after that.

“It’s usually a hassle to travel outside of Walla Walla because we have to drive to Pasco and then fly somewhere else. Now every other team gets to experience that coming here, so the tables are turned for once,” Liu said.

Holding the tournament on campus also means that other Whitman students can watch the Debate and Forensics team throughout the tournament, which, according to Liu, can look pretty intense.

“I’ll be talking at like 300 words a minute. It’s a skill that people develop because it’s competitive. I think it’s fun to have other people watch that because it feels more like a sport and more competitive — we’re all doing technical things to try and win rounds,” Liu said.

Aside from skills like this, though, the team also hopes that topics of debate will intrigue students.

“All of our topics that we’re given are very relevant to what’s going on in our modern world, so politics majors would definitely be interested in what we’re talking about. Anyone whose interested in the intricacies and nuances of any really specific topics would probably enjoy it,” Pilling said.

As students prepare to watch the team, however, Pilling suggests asking both the judge and competitors if they are comfortable with an audience as a common courtesy practiced in Debate and Forensics.

Regardless of spectators, Storrer and members of the team take pride in Whitman’s Debate and Forensics team.

“Seeing the students do what they do so well is always an honor to watch, and it’s very impressive,” Storrer said.

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