Texas Tech is home to one of the most successful debate programs in the United States.
According to the Tech Parliamentary Debate Team website, the debate program has produced three national championships in the past decade: two NPDA National Championships in 2008 and 2010 and an NPTE top speaker in 2010. The program has also had numerous teams with top five finishes at nationals.
Adam Testerman, Tech’s director of forensics and debate team coach, said he is proud of this year’s accomplishments as well.
“The debate team competed in two national championships in March,” Testerman said. “Our team placed 11th in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence and eighth place in the National Parliamentary Debate Association out of 160 teams. Our performance placed Tech at 18th in the nation with only two teams competing while many other schools had four or more.”
Testerman was also given the honor of being named the most-preferred debate critic for the third year in a row by the NPTE, he said. Testerman began as a member of the debate team while working on his undergraduate degree at Tech.
The debate program is focused on parliamentary debate, according to the debate team website, and debaters are expected to have a well-rounded skill set that appeals to both argument-centric and audience-centric forms of argumentation.
“A competitive setting allows academic thought to be contested and refined in interesting and sometimes unpredictable ways,” Testerman said.
Drew Hoffmaster, a senior chemical engineering major from Houston, said he has been passionate about debate since he first became involved in it during high school.
“While debate wasn’t the only factor that drew me to Tech,” Hoffmaster said, “it was interesting to find out that Tech had a very successful program.”
The vision of this program is to produce well-rounded individuals who possess a deep understanding of the world and unwavering commitment to proving it for the better.
“I have learned a ton about the world, with knowledge gained in both the governmental policy and interpersonal realms,” Hoffmaster said. “I loved the competitive aspect of debate and its ability to move away from empty rhetoric toward a more strict and thorough method of argumentation, as well as its ability to make people focus on how they say what they say in order to avoid being problematic or violent toward others.”
According to the debate team website, success in debate requires students to have a deep understanding of politics, current events, modern philosophy and other elements of a liberal arts education.
“Anyone is invited to practice with the team to see if membership is something they are interested in,” Testerman said. “Debaters are expected to turn in weekly research assignments, attend all team meetings and attend most of the tournaments. These expectations naturally limit our numbers, however we encourage students to see if it’s something they can handle, because debate is one of the richest and most important activities many people ever participate in.”