Debate teams from Harvard, Vanderbilt, NYU and 62 other colleges from across the country came to IU this weekend for the Cross Examination Debate Association tournament.
The tournament began Friday morning and concluded Monday night. In the final round of debates, the Towson University team defeated the University of Oklahoma team 7-4.
Brian DeLong, Director of Debate at IU and host of both this tournament and the National Debate Tournament, said it was four days of rigorous competition.
“In a public speaking class, students will likely give anywhere between four and six speeches in that single course,” he said. “Our students, especially the ones that are making the finals, will triple that number in a weekend.”
A total of 170 teams of two competed. During the first two days, each team competed in eight debates. Those who finished with a 5-3 record moved on to the single elimination rounds.
Going into the second half of competition, 60 teams remained. Each debate lasted two hours and 45 minutes and had one judge.
“There are no clear guidelines on how the judge will evaluate the round,” DeLong said. “Each judge is extremely dynamic and often times the debate rounds will be altered by debaters as they adapt to the judges that they have and attempt to meet some of their requirements.”
The topic for this year, announced in early August, was the issue of having congressional or judicial restrictions on presidential war powers.
With debate season beginning in mid-September, debaters prepared by researching the topic for the tournament throughout the year.
DeLong said the policy debate students are participating in is often considered research-based debate.
“Our students do an equivalent of a masters degree worth of research on this topic alone throughout the entire year,” he said. “They really do it just for the love of the game and the academic rigor that’s associated with it.”
For this tournament, rather than needing to qualify like debaters do for the National Debate Tournament, it is just a matter of how many teams the host school can accommodate.
Most of the schools brought several teams. Oklahoma had more than 10 teams entered, two of which made the final four.
George Lee, of Oklahoma, said preparation for a national tournament like this involves research on the teams they will compete against to know their argument and what to say in response.
He said they have been building on their arguments throughout the year.
Lee said aside from debate being an intellectual challenge during college, the concepts do transfer to the real world.
“Particularly for me, being an African-American student, I look at debate as just a training round to be able to go transform the outside world, kind of understanding the systems and structures that make the world go round,” he said. “I think debate can be beneficial to the smartest people our country has to offer, from coast to coast.”
The host of the tournament changes every year.
DeLong worked with Eric Morris, the president of CEDA and an assistant professor at Missouri State University, and many others to organize the tournament.
DeLong said it is an honor for IU to be able to host both CEDA and the National Debate Tournament, considering IU’s debate program is now rebuilding after 13 years of not having a team.
“To be able to host the two most important tournaments the entire year after only four years of being here shows the confidence this community now has in us as being a stable debate program in the country,” he said.