Debate team hopes to attract new members with open call

Butler University and the College of Communication are calling for all sharp-tongued students with a knack for public speaking to come check out the newly resurrected debate team.

The team has a legacy of competition across the Midwest, and each year Butler students are presented with the opportunity to become a part of this tradition.

Professor Casey Ryan Kelly, director of debate, said the debate team consists of Butler students from a wide range of academic fields.

Each member will participate in either on-campus or off-campus events.

On-campus events are directed toward students eager to jump-start their involvement on the debate team, Kelly said.

Students interested in joining the team can attend regular weekly meetings to practice debate and help promote the team around campus.

Kelly said off-campus events require the participation of more avid student debaters.

The debate team travels with the speech team to a handful of regional competitions throughout the year.

Students interested in competitive debate partner with one other student from the Butler team, and together they work to practice rhetoric skills in anticipation of future tournaments.

Each two-person team plans its speech with the help of Kelly and other peer members.

Kelly said Ellie Pierce, assistant debate and speech coach, is also available to assist students in their debate preparation.

Kelly said that the Butler debate team only attends parliamentary debate competitions.

As opposed to a normal policy debate, a parliamentary debate is more heavily invested in rules and points of procedure, and the speech topic changes from debate to debate.  Students receive the topic a half-hour before they compete.

Kelly said competitive debate instills research and reasoning skills in students that will be crucial in the future.

“It builds the ability to think critically and interpret an argument,” Kelly said. “Those things have been useful in my own professional life, and it is a lifelong professional and personal skill.”

College of Communication Dean Gary Edgerton said he recognizes the importance of the debate team at Butler.

“Members learn oral speaking skills and the ability to get up on their feet and construct a coherent argument and express themselves,” Edgerton said. “While it’s a fun pursuit, it’s also academic and personally helpful.”

Edgerton said he feels positive that the debate team will establish a professional identity on campus this year and set good footing for the future.

“This year is about identifying some talented and interested students and mentoring them,” Edgerton said. “It’s to let people know that a functioning debate team does in fact exist at Butler.”

The first debate team call-out meeting occurred on Monday, but interested students can contact Kelly at for more information.


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