On Saturday, the Butler University Speech and Debate Team members sophomore Andrew Wray and junior Nick Stock battled through the first College Public Forum National Tournament and finished fourth in the nation.
The topic up for debate was, “Resolved: That the United States should no longer be the policeman of the world.”
They received the topic about two weeks in advance, and immediately began preparing, both individually and as a team.
Stock, an international business and finance major, never debated in public forum format before this year and was more familiar with parliamentary debate.
The team had already participated in five public forum debates throughout the school year though.
Debate team coach Janis Crawford explained that public forum debating is more popular in high schools and relatively new to colleges, but hopefully it will continue to grow in popularity.
Public forum debating requires each two-person team to create cases that both affirm and negate the topic. The side they debate is determined by a coin toss.
“Because you have to adjust to what the other team says, public forum is a more realistic type of debate,” Crawford said.
While participants do prepare an introduction speech ahead of time, they must adjust their argument, especially during “crossfire,” when the teams ask each other questions to attempt to reveal a weakness in argument.
“I was really surprised by the caliber of the competition,” Stock said.
Eight teams participated in the tournament, which consisted of four rounds and was held in the Fairbanks Center for Communication.
“It was an honor to host the first College Public Forum national debate,” Wray, a sophomore communication studies, political science and history major, said.
Coaches, community members and Butler faculty judged the tournament, and William Neher, dean of the College of Communication, helped to judge the final round.
Crawford pointed out that a major difference between public forum and other styles of debate is that anyone can judge public forum.
This weekend, members of the Speech and Debate Team will be participating in individual events.