Wichita State News

Wichita State debate competition prepares students for life

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Wichita State University debate team has faced some of its toughest competition this season and continues to surprise the field.

The squad has competed well at several different debate tournaments including Northwestern University, Georgia State University, Bear Shock (Missouri State University and Wichita State University), Emporia State University and the University of Oklahoma.

At Emporia State, all but one team broke through to elimination rounds.

“We’re pretty diligent at working because we all have to contribute,” said Tyler Joe, a member of the debate team. “We’re such a small squad we can’t rely on 20 other people to help us.”

The team still has tournaments at the University of North Texas, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Kentucky, districts and the National Debate Tournament.

Real-life skills

On top of competing, debate helps develop and promote beneficial skills for team members.

“Debate is the single most educational activity a student can engage in,” said Eric Robinson, graduate student in the Elliott School of Communication and assistant debate coach. “At the highest levels, students can spend as much time and energy as is expended competing in any Division I athletic program.”

“Debate, when taken seriously, is like a second major or a full-time job; it becomes your life,” he said.

As a debater, a student can hone life skills such as listening and reasoning while staying up to date on current events.

“It helps you stay current on all sorts of events,” said Joe. “The amount of information and the speed at which you can process that information is astronomical when you are in debate, especially at the collegiate level.”

The Shocker debate squad consists of 10 members and requires everyone’s efforts to be successful.

“You’re going to get a lot more hands-on experience here,” said Joe. “We have a pretty tight-knit squad.”

Career development

Joe said debate has helped him develop better study skills for classes.

“It helps me organize my thoughts and put all of these practical things I’ve learned through debate into practice,” he said.

Robinson agrees that debate can help students in college or their future job.

“The process of researching a very broad range of topics, cultivating listening skills, thinking about issues from multiple perspectives and building the character to deal with both wins and losses is unique to the format of debate,” he said.

Joe said the debate team is preparing him for his future career, hopefully law, in addition to setting him up for success for the rest of his life.

“It’s shaped my career goals and where I’m going to take myself in the future,” said Joe. “I want to go to law school and become a lawyer, and debate helps me apply those skills to my future career.”

The debate season runs from September 2010 through April 2011.

For more information on Wichita State debate, contact Jeffrey Jarman at 978-6075 or jeffrey.jarman@wichita.edu.

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