Debate team hosts return tournament

For the first time since 2002, Temple’s debate team hosted 30 colleges last weekend.

Last Friday through Sunday, the Temple Debate Society hosted its first tournament since 2002, and Amanda Smith said the tournament finally affirmed the group’s status as an official debate team.

“You’re not an official member of APDA until you have your own tournament,” said Smith, a freshman global studies major and the personnel manager of the Temple Debate Society.

APDA, or the American Parliamentary Debate Association, is an intercollegiate debate association featuring membership from dozens of colleges and universities across the United States.

“Once you get a bid for a tournament, you’re on the league,” said Taylor Taliaferro, a junior economics major and the tournament director. “You are a real presence and you’re a respected member of the community.”

“We finally rejuvenated our team, and have a solid foundation to host,” Taliaferro said. “Hosting requires a lot of manpower and coordination within a team, and we’re up and running and thriving.”

APDA isn’t exactly prestigious, but it’s “intellectually challenging,” said Anh Nguyen, a sophomore journalism major and the vice president of Temple Debate Society. APDA began in the Ivy League, so the competition consists of several private schools with large endowments.

“It’s been hard, because we’ve seen how big other tournaments are,” Nguyen said. “We are on a much smaller scale, but we’re happy it’s going well for the team.”

“It’s expanded to public schools, so there’s a shift in the membership base,” she added.

Eric Tannenbaum, a sophomore at The College of New Jersey and a competitor at this weekend’s tournament, said APDA “has had a school bias and elitism issue for a long time,” he said. “It’s gotten better the last few years and the culture is becoming more accepting.”

The Temple Debate Society never imagined it would host a tournament again, Nguyen said, because it lacks funding.

“We ask for funding from private donors,” Nguyen said. “It’s also hard to send people to tournaments every weekend because it’s expensive.”

Students from 30 different colleges competed at the debate, and all were supportive of the fact that Temple is beginning to host again.

“I always like to see more schools hosting tournaments,” Tannenbaum said. “More schools getting involved makes the league a bigger place.”

“I think it’s great,” Jessi Dean, a sophomore at Franklin & Marshall College said. “I like Temple’s team. They’re really nice. It’s great to get a variety of tournaments with different teams and schools.”

Steven Doncaster, a freshman economics major and a member of Temple Debate Society, said the team members always try to have fun while they practice and compete.

“One of my favorite practices was this one time when we did a drill where we created the most offensive case lines and tried to argue them,” Doncaster said. “We were just in there laughing the entire time.”

Even the tournament’s theme was influenced by something the whole club finds fun. Inspired by the animated show “Rick and Morty,” the theme was “Get Schwifty 2016,” named after one of the most popular episodes.

“We all just have an obsession with ‘Rick and Morty,’” Taliaferro said.

“This is definitely the beginning of a Temple re-emergence in the league, and we hope we’re able to allow future students who want to debate to be able to come to Temple and have a solid foundation,” Taliaferro said. “I want to be able to say I was able to build something to help students in a fun, academic environment.”

“It’s epic for us,” said Zachary Duncan, a freshman legal studies major. “It was a lot of work to put together so I’m happy it’s successful. As long as you’re willing to work with a great team, you can pull off an event like this.”

Tsipora Hacker can be reached at

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