Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 1, 2014

University’s debate team rides a wave of success

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University Debate Team has enjoyed a busy and successful year with multiple wins in several competitions.

But the team has more to offer than just competitions. It offers preparation for life through the skills of expressing analytical thought. Coached by Dr. Michael Eaves and Kevin Bryant, the VSU Blazers Debate Team practices regularly to hone these skills.

“VSU holds three practices a week. At two of the three practices, we talk about current events and what is happening in the news for about 20 minutes,” says Bryant, who is a VSU graduate student scheduled to graduate in May with a master’s degree. “Then we hold an actual debate practice round. On Sunday practice, I try and teach lectures about various debate positions and how to run them effectively.”

These lectures can cover everything from counter plans to “Kritics” to disadvantages, affirmative strategy, negative strategy, and case outlining to practice flowing, which is writing what the other debaters say, to watching debate rounds on the Internet.

“This is so the novice can get the foundation or base of knowledge they need, and then the more varsity members get to practice those skills during the practice rounds,” Bryant says. “Also, this helps so the novice doesn’t feel overwhelmed by going up against the varsity debaters. This lasts for about a semester, then the second semester, we start having the novice practice against the varsity to help develop their skills as well.”

The debate team’s mission is simple — provide a means for student improvement.

“The mission of the team for me is to improve speaking skills, critical thinking skills and education in a fast-paced, friendly, competitive environment,” Bryant says. “We have several majors that include communications, political science, biology, Spanish, American sign language, economics/business, and even marketing. So we are pretty diverse. I prefer the diversity, because when I don’t know it, someone else might.”

All anyone has to do to join the team is be a VSU student, attend practices and debate team mates. It is an extracurricular activity but there are also classes that offer academic credits.

“You can take both classes to partially fulfill a communication minor and you don’t even have to be on the team,” Bryant says. “You don’t have to take either class to be on the team although they may help. One rule we have implemented is if you can’t make it to practice then you can’t travel to tournaments. Some students are just naturally gifted or more knowledgeable, but they have to put the initiative into the team by helping out other team members during practice.”

A look at some of the wins by the VSU Debate Team this academic year.

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