The University of Nevada, Reno Debate Team concludes their season with favorable performances at the National Parliamentary Debate Association and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence in late March. The teams are awarded points based on their top-four tournaments during the course of the regular season, which began last fall.
Phil Sharp, the debate team coach and forensics director in the College of Liberal Arts at the University, was proud of the team's performance given the circumstances of having less team members than previous years, with eight members compared to an average of 20.
"One of the standout moments was in the last preliminary round in the NPTE tournament," Sharp said. "The team only had four ballots and was in danger of not advancing to the elimination rounds. They got a topic that they were well prepared for and they took both ballots off of a very good team that allowed them to advance."
According to the NPDA website, the National Parliamentary Debate Association is the largest national intercollegiate debate organization in the United States, with between 200-250 schools attending at least one tournament during the course of the year. The NPDA encourages extemporaneous two-on-two debate, with debate styles varying from traditional public-centered debate to more policy-oriented.
The top performances at the tournaments were led by the University student duo Josh Nelson and Sean Thai, placing 33rd out of 129 teams at the NPDA tournament at Lewis and Clark College from March 23-26, and placing 22nd out of 42 teams at the NPTE tournament, held at Lewis & Clark College from March 28-31. Nelson, a senior studying philosophy, is thankful for all the support the debate team receives from the University.
"I'm really pleased with how the University community, especially the Communications Studies department and the rest of the debate team, rallied behind us and helped us during the national tournaments," Nelson said.
Not only does debate help to improve students' public speaking and teamwork, it also helps encourages resilience and develop skills that are essential in the classroom.
"Students can learn rapid, critical thinking that is only done in debate," Sharp said. "Most students who participate in debate can write a research paper in one-fifth the time of an average student."
While debate can be seen as a hobby, for the students, it requires a lot of time and energy.
"Debate can be incredibly taxing and takes up a lot of my time, but the skills I've learned have been essential for my academic success and my future career path," Nelson said.
To learn more about the NPDA, view national results archives, view participation forms and more, visit the NPDA website. For more information about the University's Nevada Debate Union - part of the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Liberal Arts - or to join the team, contact Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nevada Debate and Oral Communications Award ceremony is May 7 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Joe Crowley Student Union Great Room. The Debate Team will also be working with the Nevada Debate Union to present A Public Debate on Free Speech Campus with Dr. Katherine Schweitzer in the Wells Fargo Auditorium on April 23, 2018.