Texas Tech debate team members Kimberly Rhodes and Juan Leonardi have qualified for the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence competition, which will take place March 19-22 at William Jewell College in Missouri.
During the Chicago Loyola tournament, Rhodes and Leonardi qualified in parliamentary debate.
“At nationals, we will have topic research areas, so they’ll have set topics on general things,” Rhodes, president of the debate team and a senior English major from Caddo Mills, said.
The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence could involve topics such as if the U.S. should substantially reduce its agriculture subsidies or if one of more European Union member states should repeal laws restricting freedom of speech and expression, according to the Tech debate website.
The variety of resolutions means the team must be prepared, Rhodes said.
“The resolution could have anything to do with those things,” she said, “and that’s only one part of nationals. It could be anything. It could be what are public relations in North Korea or should Japan rearm. We never know what the challenge is going to be, so we have to be really well read on current events.”
The debate team practices every Wednesday, Rhodes said, and each team member is responsible for turning in assignments.
The team spends time in and out of the office researching every week, she said.
“Everyone has a bunch of stuff that they have memorized,” Leonardi, secretary of the debate team and a sophomore accounting major from Coppell, said. “In most of my speeches, I don’t get to prep because it’s happening during the challenge, so I have so many things I have to have memorized in case they pop up.”
In a debate round, Rhodes and Leonardi compete against another team of debaters, Rhodes said, with one pair affirming and the other team negating the resolution.
The affirmative team will speak about actions they think should be taken, she said.
“For example, the topic is if Japan should rearm,” Rhodes said. “The affirmative team would say Japan is going to rearm and we are going to give them X number of weapons, then they’ll have two advantages. It increases U.S. HEG and increases our foreign policy with Japan, or something like that.”
The team negating the topic then provide counter arguments, discussing why something should not happen, she said.
A judge then assesses the arguments, Rhodes said, and decides the winners.
“You get judged based on who wins the argument,” she said. “It depends on the judge’s philosophy and what they think is important in debate and what arguments they value, because that’s how you’re going to win the debate.”
For the next several weeks, the debate team will continue to meet each week in preparation for nationals.