Debate Team Brings Home Top Honors at National Tournament
For the first time in the history of the Fullerton College Speech and Debate Team, the team traveled outside of California to compete at the National Educational Debate Association’s (NEDA) National Tournament on March 13 and 14 in Dayton, Ohio, and brought home multiple awards, including the National Championship title.
A collegiate debate association emphasizing audience-centered debate, NEDA hosts an invitational tournament and a national tournament. This was the first time the FC team competed at the national level.
“It was a whirlwind experience and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,” said Kitiny Phumchun, first-year administration of justice student at FC. Phumchun, who joined the debate team last spring, competed in the tournament with fellow teammate and debate partner, Zach Turner and teammates, Sarah Benedict, Joseph Phillips, Rachel Romo, and Michael Wu.
To prepare for the national tournament, FC co-hosted a NEDA-style tournament with Cal State Fullerton in March. At the local competition the team gained a preview of the competition they would face at the national tournament.
Phumchun attributes the team’s success to their collaborative effort to research, prepare and thoroughly understand the material. This year’s NEDA policy resolution centered around the highly publicized protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked emotional debates concerning law enforcement actions and the use of brute military force. Students prepared for their debates using NEDA’s policy resolution statement: “Local law enforcement should be demilitarized.”
“The level of competition made for exciting and close rounds of debate,” stated Sarah Benedict, who also joined the debate team last spring. “I have grown as a communicator, critical thinker, leader, listener, and in many other ways through debating.” Benedict will complete her last semester at FC and is excited for the future of the team.
With more than 20 colleges and universities attending the national championship tournament and some university students, such as students from Ball State University having more than eight years of experience in debating, FC debaters stated they were honored to have competed with some of the best schools in the nation and were humbled by the end result.
The team brought home eight awards in total with Romo and Phillips taking the national championship win. Fullerton College was also recognized as 2015 Outstanding New Program, and teammates received awards in novice policy debate, open policy debate, and top speaker awards.
“That is a reflection of the competitiveness of our school; showing that we are able to compete with teams with much more experience than we do,” Wu said.
The local and regional tournaments are held regularly throughout the year and the entire team consists of about 30 students, according to the team’s advisor Doug Kresse, who teaches the intercollegiate forensics class, Speech 138.
“I’m very proud of this year’s team,” he said. “They do a great job representing this school.”
Speech 138 affords students a co-curricular opportunity to practice what they learn in the classroom in the environment of intercollegiate forensics competition. Students in the class develop skills in reasoning, oral and written communication, and teamwork.
“I couldn’t have asked for better teammates or better coaches,” Phumchun said. “It’s humbling to have traveled all the way to Ohio and act as representatives of Fullerton College.
The team will continue to put their skills to practice when they compete at the Spring 2015 Robert Barbera Debate Intramural at California State University, Northridge on April 19.