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Monday, May 23, 2022

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Debate Team Surpasses Expectations

The SDSU forensic policy debate team won first place at the Golden Gate Season Opener.
By David Rozul

San Diego State’s policy debate team is creating a presence for themselves that is turning heads on the national level.

With a first-place win, at the Golden Gate Season Opener at San Francisco State University, the team is surpassing everyone’s expectations.

“In our very first full year of policy debate, for San Diego State to come out of that gate and win our very first national tournament is unheard of,” said Sharon Taylor, head coach of SDSU’s debate team and director of forensics. “We are having one of those start-up years that everyone dreams of... it’s all clicking.” 

Policy debate returns

Policy debate, which is a very research-intensive wing of debate where teams get a broad topic and debate the affirmative and negative side to reach policy-oriented solutions, was dropped by SDSU in 2003 and returned this past spring.

“It has always been a goal as a department to bring policy back to SDSU,” Taylor said. “We have seen great support from alumni and everyone has worked hard to make this a reality again.”

Cerebral athletics

The debate team, organized through the School of Communications, is a core group of students who continue to challenge themselves through extensive mental preparation and quick-witted oral communication. 

With three wings of debate including, parliamentary, Lincoln-Douglas and policy; a typical practice for a debate can take anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week.

“Ninety percent of the work is before the round,” said Andrew Won, a sophomore double major in communication and business. “You have to be on it, researching and knowing what you’re talking about.”

Taylor compared it to athletic competition.

“Debate is cerebral athletics; it’s got rules and regulations; it’s got coaches; it’s got referees; we fly teams across the country... we compete to win,” Taylor said.

The debate team has fared well with several individual honors, including:

  • Golden Gate Season Opener
    1st place team champions of the policy debate division
    Andrew Won - first place speaker award policy debate
    Jayde Clark - fifth place speaker award policy debate

  • Las Vegas Classic Invitational Debate Tournament
    Andrew Won- third place speaker policy debate
    Jayde Clark- seventh place speaker policy debate

The future of Aztec debate

With the rapid growth of the program, more money is needed for the program to reach top national ranking. 

“We are invited to different national and international tournaments, but we can’t attend because of budget,” said Matt Swanson parliamentary debate coach. “To be the best, we need to continue to compete against the best; and we need as much support from our community as possible.”

Taylor agreed.

“We as an SDSU community are used to giving press to athletics, and rightly so,” she said. “What we are not used to is paying attention to the academic students who are burning up the boards... this is the year of change.”

The debate team’s next tournament is at Wake Forest University, Nov. 19-21.