GCU, ASU to square off in debate at Union

October 28, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

The Antelopes have faced off with their Sun Devil neighbors over the years in a men’s basketball exhibition, club rugby and various other sports.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday in the north dining hall of the Student Union, Grand Canyon University goes head-to-head with Arizona State University in a public debate organized by the award-winning GCU speech and debate team.

Since it’s a political year and the Nov. 4 general election is right around the corner, the topic for the competition is “Resolved: The Republicans will take back the Senate in November.”

For the two-on-two debate, GCU students Thomas Rotering and Thomas Varkey are preparing to argue why the Republicans will win the Senate majority, while ASU’s two student debaters will make an argument for the Democrats to retain their majority.

For example, debaters could explore the possible outcomes in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia — states where Senate seats are held by the Democrats but might shift to the GOP. Meanwhile, the Democrats are focused on reclaiming GOP-held Senate seats in Georgia and Kansas.

While GCU’s speech and debate team typically competes in traditional forensics events such as extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking and more technical forms of debate, Wednesday’s event is designed to be livelier and more informal, to introduce the audience to the complex task of projecting election outcomes.

“In public debate, it’s about taking basic statistics and basic persuasive appeals and relaying them to the audience in a way they will understand,” said GCU communications instructor Barry Regan, who advises the campus speech and debate team through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “But it’s not just going to be a bunch of stats. We’re also going to look at demographics and polling trends. So it’s going to be a really nice public-policy debate.”

Since Regan joined GCU last year, the club has competed in numerous collegiate tournaments. Over the weekend, Regan’s students finished first overall among four-year universities at a competition in Pasadena, Calif., and earlier this year they earned top honors in Division III at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational in Riverside, Calif.

Wednesday’s event is open to the public and will last about 45 minutes. Regan said while there’s no judge, winner or loser, members of the audience will be invited to engage the speakers and to attempt to “poke holes in their arguments.” The format is based on the International Public Debate Association’s standard.

Varkey, a GCU premed sophomore from Peoria, said Wednesday’s format allows for introductory arguments followed by rebuttals where debaters can “attack certain parts of” the opposition’s argument. He said conveying that artful, well-researched argument is what drew him to speech and debate.

“I’m pretty excited and looking forward to arguing these ideas,” Varkey said. “I’m looking forward to hearing (ASU debaters’) eloquent arguments, the way they speak, and their rhetoric.”

Contact Michael Ferraresi at [email protected] or 602-639-7030.

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