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Beyond Words

Whitworth's Debaters Experience Growth, Friendship and Success

For the members of the Arguing Bucs, it's no debate: Whitworth University forensics offers an excellent way to challenge yourself and grow. These debaters sharpen their public-speaking and analytical skills all year long, developing close bonds as they travel around the country to compete. And their work consistently pays off. This spring, for the seventh time in eight years, the Arguing Bucs won the National Christian College Forensics Association's national tournament. And in the yearlong sweepstakes for points earned all season, Whitworth took fifth place out of more than 125 schools across the nation.

We asked some of Whitworth's expert debaters about why they love forensics – from the growth they have experienced to their favorite debates. Here's what they said.

Rylee Walter '19

Majors: Speech Communication, English – Literature Track 

Forensics has helped me grow in almost every aspect of my life. I have become a more confident and articulate presenter, improved my ability to think and adapt quickly, learned how to efficiently balance school/practice/work/other extracurriculars, and practiced persevering through speeches or debates that felt scary, just to name a few benefits. I also owe much of my own growth to our coach, Dr. Mike Ingram. He has consistently challenged and encouraged me over the last four years, and I am grateful every day for his influence in my life.

My favorite part of the team is absolutely the community. Almost all of my closest friends at Whitworth have come from the team, and our coaches truly invest in us as people – we're one big family. From singing karaoke in the vans to helping each other through hard debates, the level of support, encouragement and general friendship we experience makes the team a really incredible place to learn and grow.

Chauncella Koulibali '22

Major: Psychology

Forensics at Whitworth has holistically bettered my freshman year here. Within the first week of school, I already had an awesome group of people I could associate with. Some of my closest friends here are on the debate team, and I highly value those relationships. Debate is a rewarding activity that I love, but it also has its challenges. Having a group of people that can relate to the balance of being in a competitive activity while still maintaining academic success has made my life healthier and happier. 

My favorite part of being in this program is competing. It's an odd phenomenon... When we have to wake up at 6 the morning of the first competition day, I always think to myself, "Why am I doing this again?" but then after my first round of giving a powerful speech and debating a topic that I'm passionate about, the adrenaline floods through my body and I think, "Wow, I love doing this." The sense of reward and accomplishment that I've found in forensics is unparalleled to anything else I've done in my life. Whenever I earn an award, I'm not only proud of myself, but I'm thankful for my teammates and coaches who helped me polish those speeches and prep the solid debate cases. Plus, I love walking around in suits and having people listen to me! I feel so empowered.

From left, Tucker Wilson '20, Rylee Walter '19, Jericho Simone '22 and Chauncella Koulibali '22

Tucker Wilson '20

Majors: English – Writing Track, Speech Communication

Learning how to speak and communicate clearly and effectively is helpful just about anywhere in life. But, speech and debate does more than just teach you how to talk pretty, move your hands correctly and stay within time limits. The thinking and preparation that goes into both speeches and debates makes you better able to formulate arguments and generate ideas, as well as interpret arguments and ideas from other people. The knowledge of current events necessary to do debate and some speech events makes you much more informed on the goings-on of the world. The benefits of being able to make arguments, analyze other arguments and present your thoughts coherently are indispensable. 

In the most interesting debate I have had in Whitworth forensics, I was affirming the resolution "A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends." Essentially, I was arguing that it is better to have knowledge of your enemy than it is to have allies. My opponent tried to illustrate the value of allies using Harry Potter as an example, who relied heavily on his friends to beat Voldemort. When I questioned my opponent, I asked him how Harry and his friends knew how to defeat Voldemort. He answered vaguely, so in my next speech I pointed out how Harry and his friends only knew how to beat Voldemort because Harry shared a magic connection to Voldemort (his enemy), and also literally viewed memories that told him about the Horcruxes. Thus, Harry needed to know his enemy before his friends could even be useful. It was immensely satisfying to use my nerd knowledge to turn an opponent's argument against them!

Jericho Simone '22

Major: Chemistry – Biochemistry Track

At Whitworth, we participate in IPDA (International Public Debate Association) debate, where every round is a new topic. What this means is that you have to be able to understand a lot of complicated topics in a short amount of time. Also, you gain a lot of knowledge on current events and are always informed about what's going on. I love the idea that the art of debate is the ability to see an issue from every perspective and work with new knowledge.

I have debated fun topics like "All dogs go to heaven," but the interesting debates are the ones that make you think and you bring out into your life. At Christian nationals in Kansas I had a round where the topic was "healthcare is a human right," and I had to argue that healthcare is not a human right. I ended up on the idea that health is a human right, not healthcare. I thought this was a really interesting philosophical idea that I've actually brought out into my own life.