LV debaters take national tourney

Posted Oct. 6, 2006

The University of La Verne debate team started the new season on fire, winning a national championship in the 2006 United States Universities National Open Debate Tournament last weekend at Occidental College.

“As far as I know this is the first tournament that we’ve out and out won as a team in a while,” said John Patrick, a senior speech communications and journalism major and one of the big winners in the weekend tournament.

Students competed in seven rounds, five on Saturday and two on Sunday, debating on topics such as victims’ rights in criminal cases, “nuclear Iran” and the international trade of human organs.

Two La Verne teams survived the elimination rounds, making it to the semifinals, with one team making it to the final round.

La Verne’s Team A, composed of Patrick and senior Josh Martin carried the championship trophy home.

“This was actually a really good tournament for us,” Patrick said. “We were No. 1 coming out of the preliminary rounds.”

The motion for the final round was: “This house would force feed hunger strikers,” the same motion that Martin and Patrick debated separately during the Canadian Universities Championship last year.

“You never know what's going to happen,” said Martin, the debate team captain.

In Canada Patrick ran with a “crazy angle” that turned heads and caught people off guard.

However, this year he and Martin crafted a better, more realistic case that led them to defeat Loyola Marymount University A, University of Alaska A, and Northern Arizona University A in the final round.

Not only did ULV take home the championship trophies, but Martin placed as the third best individual speaker as well. Patrick placed as the fourth best individual speaker

The Occidental Tourney was Alecia Mcgaughey’s first debate tournament.

“It was very scary,” said Mcgaughey, a freshman speech communications major. “I was very nervous at first.

After going through five dabates in a row Mcgaughey gained assurance and confidence from the experience.

“I was very proud of myself to speak for seven minutes about something that I knew nothing about,” Mcgaughey said, after debating on the United Nations Security Council.

This year's team is mostly composed of newcomers.

Nevertheless the team continues with a passion for debate.

“It keeps you on your toes,” said Brenna Lampson, a philosophy and speech communications major. “It’s being able to interact with a highly intellectual level of students from all walks of life.”

Additionally La Verne Team B, Lampson and Rob Ruiz, advanced to the semifinals.

Since Lampson's original partner, Rida Fatima, was unable to attend the tournament, she was quickly paired up with Ruiz.

“Rob and I never really worked together,” Lampson said. “It's definitely a challenge to work together when you don't know the person's background.”

However in the long run, the tournament proved to be an educational experience.

“Each tournament has a different nature to it,” Lampson said.

The debate team will face its next tournament at the end of October at Yale University.

Martin, Fatima, Lampson and Patrick will go to the Oxford Championships in England, as well.

Team members will attend the World Championships in Canada this year.

“I just always wanted for them to enjoy the rounds and learn from their experience,” said Ian Lising, debate team adviser and assistant professor of speech and debate. “I never demanded for them to win.”

Yelena Ovcharenko can be reached at

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