By Leah Larson, Guest Writer
Pacific Lutheran University’s Speech & Debate team ranked in the top 30 out of 220 teams at the United States Universities Worlds Debate Championship at Purdue University April 13.
There, PLU defeated top national teams from Yale, Cornell and Stanford.
Seniors Pam Barker and David Mooney broke into octofinals — preliminary rounds of finals — at the tournament.
“It was extremely rewarding to see our hard work pay off,” Barker said.
Barker and Mooney have been PLU’s most competitive debating duo this year, breaking into final rounds at each tournament they attend.
“It was an honor to continue PLU’s legacy as a competitive debate powerhouse,” Mooney said.
PLU has historically been one of the most competitive debate schools in the United States and has one of the longest traditions of debate of any university Justin Eckstein, a clinical assistant professor of communication and director for the team, said.
Eckstein cleared for elimination rounds at Nationals as a judge, marking him as one of the top critics in the nation.
“I am very pleased with the way the year has progressed, and I am excited to see what next year holds,” Eckstein said.
Sophomore Andrew Tinker also attended the national tournament. Tinker broke into final rounds at two tournaments this year, the Lewis & Clark tournament in September and the Mile High Swing in January.
“Being with PLU’s debate team this year has caused me to rethink a lot of the academic ideas that I come across, helping me put them into action,” Tinker said. “It’s been an eye-opening experience.”
Speech and Debate as an activity has a tendency to produce highly competitive individuals who excel in their careers, Eckstein said. He also said most debaters go on to achieve great things in the world of politics, business and advocacy.
“Being involved in debate has helped me a lot,” junior Christina Erikson said. “It’s helped me both in and out of the classroom. I’m happy I became involved in it.”
Eckstein said debate is notorious for refining public speaking skills, the ability to perform well under pressure, research and advocacy skills.
People from all backgrounds can gain from becoming involved in debate. Senior Mamie Howard is new to Speech & Debate this year and attended Nationals at Purdue University.
“I never thought trying it out would be so fun and rewarding,” Howard said.
The 2014-15 Speech & Debate season begins in September. All students are encouraged to join.