Debate Preparation 2013 By Jamel Brantley
As the Communications program at Cazenovia College prepares for the 13th Annual Great Debate to be held May 1st at 7pm in the McDonald Lecture Hall, one would wonder what a debater does to prepare for this event. This year the topic of the debate will be if The Federal ban of assault weapons shall be reinstated. With a topic this big, one would think that a lot of preparation would be needed to make sure that the debate goes smoothly.
Maureen Louis is the Communication Director of the Communication Studies Program at Caz and she is the teacher of the debate class. The debate is held every spring and always has two different teams, each with about ten members the opposition and the affirmative. The Great Debate will include prepared arguments, cross examination, and questions from the audience, roles that will be assigned to different students in the class by Professor Louis. So how does one prepare for this big event? I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Young, who participated in The Great Debate on the opposition team.
To prepare for The Great Debate, Young has been collecting articles about gun policies in different cities and she has also attended a seminar on campus about gun policies. As a result of this, Young has become very knowledgeable on the subject. When you are in a debate, usually the number of members on a team is at least four, but for the debate that Young is preparing for, she is on a team that consists of ten members. When you have a team this big, working on an event this big some frustration is bound to happen. Young says at times she feels like within the team, it’s every man for themselves, but she still finds a way to make it work within the group dynamic.
When asked what the easiest and hardest part for preparing for The Great Debate, Young said the easiest part was conducting the research, because there is so much information about gun policies, and the hardest part is practicing and knowing what you are going to say depending on what part of the debate you have. I asked Young, if she could change one thing about the debate process and she said “even though Maureen is doing a great job preparing us for the debate, I wish we could have broken up into teams earlier in the class.”
Every year, not only does the topic of the debate change, but the teams change as well. I wanted to see how past debaters felt their experience in The Great Debate went so I asked Cazenovia Student and last year debater Francisco Hinestroza about his experience. Hinestroza said that participating in The Great Debate was an exciting and difficult experience for him. One thing that Hinestroza said that stood out was when he said “it is difficult debating on a topic that you do not agree with.” This is something all debaters struggle with, because they do not get to choose the team that they are on.
One common denominator that Young and Hinestroza shared was their feelings on the preparation on the debate overall. They both said that working with a big team is difficult when you have to work with different personalities within the team without causing chaos. I also spoke with Matthew Moses who graduated last year and also participated in the Great Debate last year and he said “sometimes you do feel like you are doing more work versus the other people on your team, and you have to just deal with that because on the night of debate, your team won’t be at the podium with you. It will only be you.”