Simpson’s first debate team prepares for competition

by Amanda Hintgen and Kimberly Kurimski

Simpson College offers their first debate team in its history.

Debate Coach Spencer Waugh is leading the team with 12 years of experience at Indianola and Dowling Catholic High Schools. Along with his experience, Waugh and his teams have won multiple awards.

“I have coached three public forum state champions at the high school level, and two times the sweepstakes award for all of Iowa,” Waugh said.

Freshman Kristin Richert has experience in high school debating under the coaching of Waugh.

“Spencer Waugh is a truly talented coach,” Richert said. “He is fun, but tough at the same time.”

There are currently 10 members on the team and all can participate in debates if they are thoroughly prepared.

“I went out for debate, because I liked it in high school so I wanted to see how it was in college,” Richert said.

The debate is a public forum and is structured a specific way.

“A two person team takes on another two person team,” Waugh said. “The debate consists of cross examination and rebuttals.”

Each debate will last 45 minutes. Teams must debate both the pro and con side of the debate topic.

“When researching I try to find extremely reputable sources on both sides of the issue,” Richert said.

By researching both sides of the topic it prepares the students for rebuttals that opponents may have.

The first debate topic is: “It is time for Palestine to become a state?”

“I think that it is an important topic right now,” Richert said.

Participants of the debate team research the chosen topic on their own through credible sources such as The Brooking Institution, sophomore Taylor Van De Krol said.

“We compile many articles and news outlets and as a group we become knowledgeable on the matter,” Van De Krol said. “We create speeches and practice debating among each other.”

Sophomore Dustin Peters finds that debate helps develop useful skills for the real world.

“It gives me great public speaking skills, critical thinking skills, researching skills and keeps me up to date on current events,” Peters said.

The group meets once every week to share articles with one another.

“During practices we work on the topic and help each other to make our cases as strong as possible,” Richert said.

One of the reasons that Van De Krol joined the debate team is to improve his public speaking.

“The main reason that I joined the debate team is public speaking because my major, political science, is directly related to debate,” Van De Krol said.

Directly relating to schooling, the debate team is a great learning experience, Richert said.

Another skill that the debate team enhances is persuasiveness.

“My favorite thing about debating is the art of persuasiveness and the aspect of convincing the audience that your view on the topic is correct,” Van De Krol said.

Other members of the debate team have their own favorite aspects of debating.

“My favorite thing about debate is how challenging it is during the actual debate,” Richert said. “You have to be able to think well on your feet.”

One benefit of being on the debate team is that it is flexible with students’ schedules. Some students are unable to compete due to previous commitments.

However, students are able to research, practice and help the team become stronger. Students in this position are still able to compete in upcoming tournaments with new topics.

“It’s a great learning experience that looks good on a resume,” Richert said.

The debate on whether Palestine should be recognized as a state will be held at Simpson College on Nov. 12.

Participating in the debate will be four or five other colleges.

This is an advantage to the Simpson debate team because many of the debates will be held in the Midwest region.

Van De Krol looks forward to the traveling aspect of debate as well.

“It will be a great bonding experience for the team,” Van De Krol said.

The debate season will carry over into January and February of 2012, ending with the National Debate Tournament.