Debate team sets sights on capturing national title

James Ahrens

Two years ago, the Washburn parliamentary debate team was ranked third in the nation; last year the team was ranked second; and this year, team captain Kevin O’Leary said the team is working to gain the national championship.

“[Those who support the team] really want to see Washburn students out there competing with top level colleges and universities,” said O’Leary.

The debate team is a part of the communications department and consists of a number of teams. Each team is then scored and allotted points based on a system of judgment. Teams are ranked under the system National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. Based on communication techniques, argumentative skills and oration, the teams compete with colleges and universities of merit from around the country.

O’Leary said this year Washburn will be in contention with the University of Oregon, Western Washington University and Western Kentucky. The team has competed against such prestigious schools as the University of California-Berkeley, Texas Tech, University of Colorado-Boulder, and Oregon and Washington University.

Debate is a co-curricular activity meant to get students involved in activity outside the traditional academic catalog. O’Leary said the support of the offices of the president and the vice president of academic affairs were leading causes for Washburn’s success. O’Leary credits support from Jerry Farley, Washburn University president and Robin Bowen, the vice president of academic affairs.

Students on the team remain active in the university setting. Keenan Hogan, along with his teammate Andrew Lake are ranked 18th out of 643 teams.

“Parliamentary debate provides a competitive and intellectual atmosphere for people to have fun and discuss real issues affecting the international community,” said Hogan. Fellow debater Steven Mitchell echoed this sentiment.

“Washburn’s parliamentary debate team is awesome,” said Mitchell.