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.

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