Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Debate director looks back at the great UAA-Stanford Debate

The recent exhibition debate between UAA's own Seawolf Debate Program and Stanford Debate was successful beyond any of our expectations. If you were one of the estimated 300+ people in attendance, thanks so much for being part of this great event.  If you weren't able to make it to this one, what can I say?  You missed a good one!

The topic really seemed to strike a chord with the Anchorage audience.  With a controversial Proposition 5 on their minds, the audience was very in tune with the debaters' examples and arguments about the justice of hate crimes legislation.  Whether they came with preconceived notions about the rightness or wrongness of such laws, I lost count of the number of people who approached me after the debate to say that the debaters had really challenged their perspectives.  The "division of the house" that followed the debate demonstrated how controversial the topic was: the "ayes" were almost indistinguishable from the "nays" in both force and volume.

No surprise, given the pedigree of these debaters. Between them, they have over 12 World Championship appearances under their belts.  They had debated each other before and knew that there was precious little weakness in any of the speakers' approaches.  Whether the cool, analytic and precise style of Stanford's Michael Baer and Faris Mohiuddin or the more passionate polemic of UAA's Brett Frazer and Drew Cason, the audience found something to like in each team's style.  And they didn't merely sit passively by, as an opportunity for speeches from the floor gave the audience a chance to add their own voices to the debate.  The debate wrapped up with solid rhetorical efforts from Baer and Frazer, pointing out the potential and limitations of attempting to punish hatred in our society.  In the end, the real winners were all of those who thought more deeply and critically about the issues.

For a recap of the event, please spend a little time reading this blog. You'll find profiles of the speakers, Twitter and blog posts put up during the round and an archived video of the event. We hope you enjoy reliving the moment, and encourage you to keep your ears open for an upcoming announcement of another match between the Seawolves and one of the best debate teams in the country from a certain East-coast, Ivy-League school.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The latest from our Seawolf Debate Team

Nearly 160 teams from 60 colleges and universities converged on Willamette University in Salem, OR last weekend for the U.S. Universities Debating Championships.  Following competition in six preliminary rounds and four elimination rounds, students from UAA’s Seawolf Debate Program provided once again that they are among the best of the best in academic debating in the US.

The debates focused on a variety of topical issues, ranging from whether the Arab Spring has advanced the cause of human rights and freedom in the Middle East to whether incarceration in the prison system was appropriate for non-violent criminals.  In the end, two UAA teams qualified for the elimination rounds.  After the six preliminary rounds, Amy Parrent and Brett Frazer earned the 5th seed overall, while Matt Fox and Kelsey Waldorf advanced as the 16th seed.

Fox and Waldorf were taken out in the first elimination round when they were unable to convince judges that continuing sanctions on Iran has a meaningful impact on that nation’s effort to develop nuclear weapons.  Frazer and Parrent, on the other hand, advanced through the first two elimination rounds to find themselves facing teams from Vermont and Hobart and William Smith College in the Semifinal round.  Despite a strong showing and a split decision, the Senior Frazer and Junior Parrent had to content themselves with a finish in the top 5% of teams at the tournament.  Frazer also garnered honors as the second overall individual speaker out of a field of over 300 other students from around the US.

The Seawolves now wrap up their season by hosting the inaugural Middle School Public Debating Championships on April 28.  For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at 786-4391 or visit www.uaa.alaska.edu/seawolfdebate.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Honoring the teams that put UAA Debate 'on the map'

Steve Johnson
Post-debate reception remarks by Steve Johnson, Fireside Cafe:

In a time when some deride the pursuit of higher education as snobbery, I’m proud to be a snob.  I’m proud to work with students who are thrilled by the uncertainty of not knowing the right answer, but invigorated by its pursuit.  I’m proud of a university that sees the value of teaching students the skills of informed and participatory citizenry and I’m proud of our community that supports events like this where we can gather to discuss our collective future, and perhaps to imagine a better one.

I’m also proud tonight to dedicate a new trophy to honor those Seawolf Debaters who have put this program on the map.

The timing of this dedication couldn’t be better.  10 years ago this past weekend I was in China adopting my first daughter.  That was a significant trip for me, not only as an obvious personal milestone, but also because it was the first time, since I started debating, I had ever missed the national debating tournament.  We had a team that year that was very much like the team we’ve had here over the last few years—a group of hard-working and dedicated individuals that drove one another to be better than any one of them individually could have been. 

And I remember obsessively checking my email at the Holiday Inn in Hefei, Anhui province to get updates about the competition.  I watched from afar as our top team progressed through each single-elimination round, until they arrived at Semifinals and the emails stopped.  I waited and sent repeated (and increasingly demanding) requests for updates, but heard nothing.

Finally, after a few hours of radio silence, I received a two-word email: 'we won.'  It wasn’t until about an hour later when I was able to reach them by phone that I learned that they won not only the semifinal but the final round.  Ben Garcia and Chris Richter had brought home a national championship, something for which the entire team had worked and in which they all shared.

Though competition honors select individuals, it’s important to remember that those individuals achieved what they did because of the work of many others.  So tonight, I’d like to dedicate this trophy, which honors the UAA students who have qualified for the elimination rounds of the World Universities Debating Championships, to all the individuals—our current team members, our alumni, our donors and the greater UAA community—who have supported our efforts, sponsored our competition and cheered our successes.

The plaque on the trophy reads: 
The World Universities Debating Championship is the pinnacle of competition in international intercollegiate debating.  The best teams from the top universities around the world meet once a year to engage in a contest of discourse on the most pressing issues of the day.

These students from the University of Alaska Anchorage have distinguished themselves by advancing to the elimination rounds at the World Championships.  They have returned home with victory and honor.
I’d like to ask the students honored on this trophy to join me up here.  They’re not all here, but many of them are:
  • Tom Lassen and Chris Kolerok, Semifinalists at the 2007 Worlds in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Amie Stanley and Akis Gialopsos, Octofinalists at the 2011 Worlds in Botswana
  • Brett Frazer and Amy Parrent, Octofinalists at the 2011 Worlds in Botswana
  • And Brett Frazer and Colin Haugher, Octofinalists at the 2012 Worlds in Manila.
Congratulations to them and to all the members—current and past—of the Seawolf Debate program.

Steve Johnson's remarks that opened the UAA Stanford Debate

Steve Johnson at the podium opening the debate.
In case they went by too fast, here is how program director Steve Johnson couched the debate, addressing the low nature of our current public discourse.

"In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, author and social critic Neil Postman writes
When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk.
"It may be now that we’re beyond risk and in crisis.  Our public discourse of late seems to treat participants as targets for slander and character attacks, our leader’s commitments as fleeting as a image on an Etch-a-Sketch and the rights of minorities as dependent upon the personal convictions of an even smaller minority.  I’ll be honest; I sometimes feel that teaching the skills of reasoned discourse is a bit like tending a candle in the dark. 

"But the enlightenment that debate can deliver is essential, and I have faith that with the bright light of reasoned argument, we can better see the best, most just and honest path.
"I’m pleased, therefore, on behalf of the Seawolf Debate Program, to welcome you to what I hope will be an illuminating debate on an important issue."

UAA Stanford Debate, Part 1 (Begins 12:30)

Video streaming by Ustream
Time code tips:
  • 12:30 Debaters arrive, Steve Johnson opens
  • 14:07 Motion: This house would abolish the imposition of additonal penalties for crimes deemed to be hate crimes.  Johnson offers background, introduces both teams.
  • 17:30 How tonight's debate will proceed

UAA Stanford Debate, Part 2

Time code tips:
  • .03 Brett Frazer, first proposition speaker, begins (8 min)
  • 3:50 stream lost 
  • 8:01 Recording resumes, first opposition speaker Faris Mojiuddin begins (8 min)
  • 17:32 Drew Cason, second proposition speaker begins (8 min)
  • 26:50 Michael Baer, second opposition speaker begns (8 min)
  • 36:22 Steve Johnson invites floor speeches (1 minute each)
  • 37:30 Floor speech one
  • 39:24 Second floor speech
  • 41:50 Third floor speech
  • 43:40 Fourth floor speech
  • 45:12 Fifth floor speech
  • 46:22 Sixth floor speech
  • 48:03 Seventh floor speech
  • 49:25 Eighth floor speech
  • 51:10 Michael Baer closes the opposition side of the debate (5 minutes)
  • 57:21 Brett Frazer closes the proposition side (5 minutes)
  • 1:04:38 In favor of prop ay
  • 1:04:54 In favor of opposition nay
  • 1:04: Steve calls it a "win for Stanford"
    Standing ovation from the crowd
  • 1:05:16 Steve Johnson: "Far more important than a win or lose, that this becomes a beginning point for further discussion."

Pre-debate interview with Seawolf Debater Brett Frazer

We got so fired up over the UAA Stanford Debate that we wanted to do short interviews with each of the four debaters -- Brett Frazer and Drew Cason from UAA, and Faris Mohiuddin and Michael Baer from Stanford.

So much for the best of intentions. Things were moving fast the day of the debate, and we only managed to track Frazer down. He had interesting things to say, which we share in this 20-minute podcast. Check the timecodes listed in the description to move to parts of the interview that most interest you.

Here's one quote we found intriguing:

“I have been forced to argue against my personal convictions. And one of the things that has done for me is make me realize there are reasonable people who will disagree with you. When someone disagrees with you, that’s not because they are less intelligent or categorically wrong; they value certain things more than you do. You can disagree with someone and still respect their intelligence and respect their position. You can tell that person that their view is a perfectly reasonable position, it’s tenable and I understand it, but I disagree with it for these reasons. That’s a more productive conversation than the perjorative platitudes that we toss around in the political arena today.”

Even more moving, in light of the caliber of all four debaters, is that Frazer tells his personal story of dropping out of college as a Freshman. His comeback will inspire anyone. 

ADN photographer Marc Lester's 'Focal Point' blog post on UAA-Stanford Debate

An animated Brett Frazer in his opening speech.
If you missed this posting on the Anchorage Daily News website, click here to see the photos and read Lester's description of how the evening unfolded.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A special thank you to our expert Tweeters

Find the commentary, in 140-character spurts, from Andrew and Emi by searching for the Twitter hashtag #uaastanforddebate! They are Seawolf Debate Team members and bring skill to their remarks.

Thank you Andrew and Emi!

If you're not on Twitter, here's a sample of their efforts:

Steve Johnson closes the debate; 'Division of the House' makes Stanford the winner

Loud applause, a standing ovation from the crowd.

Steve Johnson calls for a "Division of the House, explaining that traditionally in parliamentary proceedings, the members would vote for a measure by filing out a door marked "ay," or vote against it by filing out the door marked 'nay.' He didn't ask the audience to do that, but invited a vocal response to who was most impressed by either the UAA-Proposition side (no additional penalties for hate crimes) versus the Stanford-Opposition (add penalties for hate crimes).

So what were the sentiments of "the house?"

Steve: "If you side with proposition, say ay. With the opposition, say nay."

Crowd: 'AY'

Crowd: 'NAY'

Steve: "It sounds to me like  a win for Stanford!"

More applause.

Steve: 'Far more important than this debate, is continuing these discussions.Join us in the Fireside Cafe to congratulate all the debaters and to continue the discussion of what constitutes justice in our society."

And that, my friends, was that!

Rebuttal Speech, UAA's Brett Frazer, 5 minutes

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. (Orwell). Michael said hate crime is morally worse.

Imagine two crimes.
One man rapes women because he is a misogynist. This would be a hate crime.
Another man is sex-starved so he drugs college students and rapes them.

In the first case, that's worse because we don't like misogynists.

Distinction between discrimation and hate crime. An additional penalty for a crime. Discrimination IS a crime. You still go to jail for murder, for rape. But if it is a hate crime, you get an additional penalty because we don't like you. That's absurd.

Take the Matthew Shepherd case. That same day, a 15-year-old was killed by her boyfriend because she refused to have an abortion. An 8-year-old was also killed in a separate incident. But the media focused on Shepherd, while the 8-year-old girl and the 15-year-old girl were forgotten because Matthew Shepherd was considered a hate crime. We feel more sympathy to you because that crime was something we do not like. That is inappropriate in secular society.

What is a hate crime? Whatever the local community decides it is. We are a nation of laws, not men.

What is gov't role in racism and hate crime? We create a justice system that penalizes crime, not opinion. Judge all equally due to their heinous acts. Native woman assaulted in street is an argument for more police in that neighborhood, not for hate crime penalties.

Courtrooms are sanctuaries of justice, insulated from the polarizing nature of politics.

Rebuttal speech, Stanford's Michael Baer, 5 minutes

One more round of applause for all of you who came up.

This debate comes down to 2 questions.
Is crime motivated by animus worse than those that are not.
If yes? Then punishing them in a manner that reflects the crime violates rree expression.

You do deter hate crime by punishing more severely. Not to deter more crime, but these crimes are worse, more evil in motive, detrimental on community.

Vandalism is vandalism. No, people feel less secure there. That is true of all vandalism. But when it includes a racially charged epithet, that group targeted feels more victimized. 

Listen to our floor speeches. How they themselves felt harmed or less secure because we know individuals had engaged in those crimes. More morally deserving of punishment.

Combined discrimination with violence is a greater harm against society. We condemn those thoughts. When you go from thought to action, when those thoughts are combined with action that is already a crime, penalty should reflect that as well.

Floor speeches by the public, 1 minute each, alternating sides

First volunteer against additional hate crime penalties: Thank you for letting me speak. One inconsistency in side supporting the laws. They say they are supporting fair treatment of people by abolishing reasons for attacking people. Many religious people are anti-gay. They have their views, can't change them. These laws are targeting these people.

Second volunteer, favoring penalties for hate crimes: Hate crime legislation in Alaska is essential. I am AK Native female. I know of specific instances of hateful targeted to AK Native people just because of who they are. Many in this group are vulnerable, some are hopeless, looked down.  Take a stand, shut it down.

Third volunteer, against penalties for hate crimes: I grew up in AK, they taught me we were all a part of the human race. What make us unique is what we think. I don't see what separates the harshness of a crime -- if you kill someone, why is that any worse because that person was a minority. Fact you killed them is bad enough. We are all part of the human race.

Fourth volunteer for opposition: I hae not heard the argument from opposition. Frequency of crimes in minority classes are much higher than those in the majority classes. Often less likely to be prosecuted.
A Native woman being raped in the street. I stopped the incident by calling the police and standing in the street with the phone. Why did the police treat her like a criminal?

Fifth volunteer : We can all agree hate crimes are bad; we have to look at punishment. We think punishment can deter crime.  Will additional penalties for hate crimes stop the crime?

Sixth volunteer: I want to respond to young man who said we are all part of human race. Me too, but Ihave been treated differently because society prefers my race. I was not pulled over at age 13 and told to be careful about what neighborhoods I walk in because it may be dangerous due to the color of my skin. Some crimes are allowed to happen. We need to correct that.

Seventh volunteer: We already know we should nto do these things. Making them hate crimes does not make them more horrible. Do not punish people for their thought.

Eight volunteer: One point the proposition makes is that hate crime controls thoughts. You can think whatever you want. The Baptist church that expressed their anti gay thoughts in a legal way. Someone can hate homosexuals, black people or asian people, as long as they do no harm, they can think what they wish.

Stanford's Michael Baer, 8 minutes

He thanks everyone for coming to the debate.

Pays tribute to Steve Johnson.

We have to live with hate. We do not have to live with the consequences of that hate. Behavior that targets a community is different from other crimes. We can do something to eliminate. Govt moral imperative to come down on them. They deserve particular punnishment.

Don't conflate hate crime with thought. Anti-discrimination laws -- firing on basis of race or religion.
Romney can fire anyone he wants. Only difference is what motivates the firing.

All of the time we ask the law to consider why a person was committing a crime. Murdering for money, in cold blood, etc. Tough calls, not always made perfectly, but we share the view that these people are immoral and are worthy of extra condemnation. They have not engaged in crimes motivated by hate. All crimes make society less secure. Hate crimes make minorities even less secure.

Brett: What about a murder who is a rapist?
Michael: Two motivations -- they are hard to sort out. But we have not heard by racial or religious hatred are not harmful to communities.

Hate crime not arbitrary.They are communities that have been oppressed their entire life. Even government sanctioned hate crimes, like govt failing to prosecute lynching.

Then, govt and even society were complicit in those crimes. Society must correct those injustices. Send a strong message.

These actions were tolerated far too long. Matthew Shepherd and James Bird episode. 2009 Obama signed hate crime into law. Late.

Close: Why does this cause more harm to society? They say help communities be stronger. But we say those communities will always be in fear without penalties for hate crime. 45 states and federal goverment have passed hate crime laws.

UAA's Drew Cason, 8 minutes

Thank you for coming, Stanford.

Faris ended his speech with antidiscrimination laws. A businessman might not hire a transgender person because it may affect his ability to sell books at his bookstore. It is a business decision. Does not say what this business owner believes. We should not punish a bigot differently than we punish a business man.

Hate crime includes religions -- they were not born into the religion. There is no characteristic that is utterly mutable or immutable. Homelessness, who chooses that?

Better ways to go about this.

Faris said this crime should be punished because its impact is larger. But Drew argues that Unabomber instills fear in a whole community. Broader impact with those crimes than someone who commits a hate crime. A vast majority of these are inadmissiable in court.

Faris: Drop the hammer on the Unabomber!

Drew: Your argument is that the impact of a hate crime is larger. Numerous crimes cause psychological distress for members of society.

Better way: Focus on integration. Policies like Andrew Sullivan writes about, opposed to hate crime laws. You are punishing thought. Most crimes have an element of hate in them, whether against a protected class or not. We will never succeed in eliminating it.

What we can succeed at doing is help people be immune to psychological damage. Sensitivity training.
Bullying teenagers. But bullying is not criminalized. They do small things that oppress others. Fix that, not the big sexy hate crime on the news.

They want a national court room show. Ignore them.

1st opposition, Stanford, Faris M. 8 minutes

Thank you Alaska! Faris says in opening.

Only in 2009 did Obama sign legislation that brings our justice system in line with our moral values.

Hate crime is not expression. We are not judging viewpoints. But premeditation is treated differently in a court of law. Juries have to figure out motive all the time. Defending the priniciple that crimes against a protected class of people should get heightened punishment.

Juries deal with discrimination all the time.

Hate crimes that bring heightened penalties are constitutional because third parties are affected.

What makes a hate crime distinct?  Not because of what you did, but who you are. You cannot fix your race or identity.

Third parties. A hate crime sends a signal not only about this individual, but the broader community itself. They may suffer the same consequences.

Brett: Any crime carries weight to the third parties.

When you mix in context of history, state abuse of a group.  Gives rise to greater degree of social discord.

An individual who decides to commit a crime against an individual because of a charracgeristic they do not like, harm first to the individual, and to third parties.

Anti-discrimination laws already do all this. Why should hate crime be different?

UAA gets 8 minutes to open the debate in support of no added penalties for hate crimes

Brett Frazer begins arguments against hate crime penalties.
The house is called to order!

Brett Frazer takes the podium. As a graduating senior, he thanks the crowd for the opportunity to debate.

Violent crime ought to be punished. We disagree that people should be punished for their opinion, even if they are racist, sexist, against the overweight or any other group. By imposing additional penalities for hate crime, you punish someone for opinions you don't agree with. The state the is policing your thoughts.

(He's good, speaking very very fast!)

The justice system cannot properly adjudicate hate crimes; we can never really know why they happen.

Michael Baer of Stanford intervenes: The justice system has to make difficult decisions all the time. How is this different?

Brett: Questions of guilt need to be separate from questions of intent. Most hate crimes are not vicious. 60 percent involve no violence. If you vandalize property, that is the crime, not whether you wrote the word "fag" on the property.

Working to combat bigoted language is a good idea, but not within the justice system. Some forms of expression should not be punished because we don't like them.

Arts 150, filling up fast

Steve Johnson welcomes a crowd of 350 at Arts 150.
The slushy parking lot is getting full, folks are standing at the parking kiosk to buy their tickets, and the auditorium is loading up! Steve Johnson is welcoming the crowd.

When public discourse is as rocky as ours is today, Johnson hopes debate skills will help us think more critically about public issues.

He is introducing the motion: This house would abolish additional penalties for crimes deemed to be hate crimes.

Stanford will argue in defense of  adding penalties for hate crimes. The UAA team has perhaps the more uphill battle of arguing that there should not be additional penalties for hate crimes.

And the debate begins.

AND..another live tweeter joins the team tonight

Emi J. Barker will be on Twitter tonight
Please welcome Emi J. Barker, a UAA sophomore with double majors in Psychology and Economics, and a minor in Visual Arts. She's had a long career in public speaking and performance, and just joined the Seawolf Debate Team this past fall. And to relax, she makes jewelry! Emi will be using the hashtage #uaastanforddebate, along with Andrew Kerosky. (See his post below)

Welcome them both -- they should offer us some excellent insight into what we are watching as this historic debate unfolds.

Reminder:  The Motion is - This house would abolish the imposition of additional penalties for crimes deemed to be hate crimes.

What do you think? And what will you think, after the debate?

UStream link, again

Here is the link; expect it to go live a few minutes before 7 Alaska time (which would be almost 8 pm in California.)

Can't come to ARTS 150 tonight for the debate?

We have a live-stream channel set up on UStream. We plan to get it going about ten minutes to 7 p.m., (Alaska Time, 8 p.m. California time) and barring any technical hiccups, you can watch the debate from ..... Girdwood, Fairbanks, Spenard, or EVEN, Palo Alto!

Play-by-play tweeting of tonight's debate

Andrew Kerosky will live-tweet the debate.
We are so lucky to have the experienced ears and eyes of Andrew Kerosky, who just signed on to  tweet tonight's debate at the TWITTER hashtag at #uaastanforddebate. And get this: He has live-tweeted debates before. He is on the Seawolf Debate Team, and has traveled with the team on the Canadian circuit. When several team members went to the World's in Manila last year, he tweeted the livestream. He'll aim his tweets to a general audience and point out good strategy, missed opportunity, dropped issues on both sides.

Andrew is currently a junior majoring in Economics with a minor in Political Science. For fun? He likes to dance -- Latin and hiphop, he says.

Please welcome Andrew and follow him at uaastanforddebate#

Local newspaper advances today's debate

The Anchorage Daily News posted a preview of today's debate. If you missed it:"Stanford, UAA debate teams plan exhibition rematch." We like that, going "jaw-to-jaw!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And up for the Seawolves, Drew Cason and Brett Frazer

Shawn Briscoe and Drew Cason.
Drew Cason - OK, the slug on this photo reads "Drew and Sean Conquer Turkey." That would be Drew on the right, and Assistant Seawolf Debate Coach Shawn Briscoe on the left. Those debaters, they get around, as in the world.

Anyway, Drew is a senior laboring on dual degrees in Philosophy (BA) and Environmental Policy (BS). He is currently conducting his own research in the Resilience and Adaptive Management (RAM) Lab focused on fine scale landscape values mapping. Drew grew up in Anchorage, and graduated from West High School. Drew has represented UAA at four World Universities Debating Championships, has achieved numerous speaker awards and proudly represented UAA in the semifinal round of the 2011 U.S. Universities Debating Championships.

Brett Frazer in Greenland.
Brett Frazer - Ah, don't be fooled by that photo -- it looks like Alaska (around Reed Lakes, maybe?) but really, it's Greenland. What were we saying about those traveling Seawolf Debaters?

Anyway, Brett is a senior majoring in Natural Science with a minor in Philosophy. He has debated for University of Alaska for three years. During that time he has distinguished himself by being recognized as the Rookie of the Year at his first U.S. National Debate Championships, having twice been ranked in the top 32 teams at the World Universities Debating Championships, and reaching the U.S. Universities Debating Championships semifinal round last year. Recently, Brett was awarded a Truman Scholarship, and this spring he will move to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Truman Summer Institute. Brett plans to further his education and argumentative skills by attending law school.

The brave team from Stanford, setting foot in Seawolf territory

Faris Mohiuddin and Michael Baer
So here's what the competition looks like:

Faris Mohiuddin - A northern California native, Faris studied Political Science and Economics as an undergraduate at Stanford.After working at Bain & Company, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and Philanthropedia (a non-profit startup), Farid returnd to Stanford and will soon complete his second year of graduate studies in Business and Law. During his admittedly far-too-long speech and debate career Faris won state and national championships and served as president of the Stanford Debate Society.

Michael Baer - A first-year law student at Stanford, Michael is thoroughly enjoying being back in California. His first stint there ended in in 2008, when he graduated from Stanford with a degree in Political Science and a focus in international Security Studies. After college, he returned home to the Washington D.C. area, where he worked for several political campaigns in Virginia and then as a writer for a U.S. Senator Evan Bayh. Michael was a national champion in parliamentary debate in college and has worked with high school and university debaters in eight countries around the world.

Hmmm. Both graduated from Stanford. And both went back to grad school there. Must be nice!

Next up, the Seawolves!

Don't miss the debate of the year: UAA v. Stanford

This is a seat you'll want to be in! The exhibition debate takes place Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. in the UAA Fine Arts Building, Room 150. (Campus map)

The Motion 

This house would abolish the imposition of additional penalties for crimes deemed to be hate crimes. 

The Teams

  • UAA: Brett Frazer and Drew Cason
  • Stanford: Faris Mohiuddin and Michael Baer

Live-stream url 

 Coming soon ;-)

Twitter hashtag 


We intend to have some serious fun, so come join us in person, or on the livestream, or via Twitter. Don't miss out on these silver-tongued debaters!