WestConn to host weekend-long debate tournament
Dozens of students from region’s top schools to participate
DANBURY, CONN. — Considering the health of today’s economy, should the government be spending or cutting back on money to help in the agricultural sector — should taxpayers be milked to help the dairy farmers? Should less money be shelled out for peanut and tobacco farming? Or should the government be supplying more dough to wheat farmers?
On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25 and 26, the Roger Sherman Debate Society at Western Connecticut State University will hold “The Hat City Debates” to argue both sides of this year’s policy debate: whether to decrease agricultural subsidies in the United States. The debate tournament will attract many of the best teams from the region, including New York University, Harvard University, Dartmouth University, Baruch College, Cornell University and Marist College. The debating will take place on the first floor of Warner Hall, on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.
About 100 teams of two students from at least 15 schools will participate in this year’s debate, said WestConn debate team adviser and WCSU Associate Professor of History and Non-Western Cultures Dr. Wynn Gadkar-Wilcox. The policy debates are 1½ hours and at the end of six rounds, the winners qualify for the elimination rounds.
In addition to the policy debates, there will also be parliamentary debates, which are less formal with topics that are presented minutes before debate. Prior to the tournament, students decide whether to participate in the parliamentary or policy debates.
For those choosing policy debates, said Gadkar-Wilcox, students must prepare by conducting extensive research on agricultural policy about reducing subsidies. “They have to do an impressive amount of technical research,” he said. The key skills, especially in policy debate, include learning the basic points of logic, to construct arguments, and how to examine sources and incorporate evidence.
To prepare for the parliamentary debates, Gadkar-Wilcox said students are encouraged to engage in current events and read everything from The New York Times to The
Economist. “It shows off their general knowledge, whereas the policy debates highlight their research skills.”
“Debate is a way of measuring your abilities to prove either side of an argument. It helps students focus their minds so that they can understand points of view they might not have otherwise considered when looking at an issue,” debate team member Schuyler Merritt said. “Most importantly, our debate team accomplishes this with the deep sense of team pride, camaraderie and good humor, which is often found on athletic teams.”
Last year, WestConn’s debate team was ranked 12th highest for Masters-Level public universities nationally. Regionally, in the university’s National Debate Tournament district, WestConn’s debate team ranked at No. 11 in New England regardless of size and type of university.
The debate tournament is free and open to the public. Debating will start at 8 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. on both Sat., Oct. 25 and Sun., Oct. 26. For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.