For a dozen years, Western’s debate team has ranked among the top 20 nationwide among teams from schools of varying sizes all over the U.S.
The students recently returned from the National Parliamentary Debate Championship in Colorado, where they ended their season in 13th place and kept the streak alive – no small feat for a young team in a rebuilding year, says Korry Harvey, assistant director of Forensics.
The year before, team members Ashley Tippins from Lynden and Kinny Torre (’16, law, diversity and justice) from Mount Vernon placed first and second in the national tournament’s individual rankings.
The awards are gratifying, Harvey says, but he’s proudest when the team becomes a supportive, inclusive community. Parliamentary debaters must be prepared to articulate well-formed opinions on just about anything— sometimes with only a few minutes’ notice—and the pressure can be off-putting to newcomers.
But the real payoff for debaters is in learning to think on their feet and about critical thinking, advocacy, and building confidence, Harvey says. He also wants the students to learn about community-building: Everyone is welcome no matter how much time they’re able to spend in preparation, he says.
“Our attitude is, debate is for the masses and should be available to anyone who wants to participate,” Harvey says.