Debate season starts with success

Robert Pierce, rpierce@lmcexperience.com

The Los Medanos College Mustangs Debate Team picked up early season wins Oct. 7 and 8 at the San Diego State Aztec Invitational, where Richard Stanfield and Dylan Lee placed eleventh out of thirty six two-person teams, Stanfield took sixth place overall and Lee took thirteenth overall. In addition, the six-person team sent to the invitational, including Stanfield, Lee, Arianna Berumen, Kyle Marshall, Marco McMullen and Hailey Solares, took collective wins over big name colleges including Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount University as a collective.

“Earning a big win early in the season is great for team morale and energy,” said Debate Team Co-coach Marie Arcidiacono in regards to the team’s performance. “I love an early season victory because it makes us want to continue winning awards.”

2017 is the third year that the debate team has gone to the Aztec Invitational, which is exclusive to returning debaters. The six sent down vary in just how much experience they have; Stanfield is a debate veteran entering his third year with the team, whereas his new debate partner Lee is only on his second semester – Stanfield commented that he was very impressed with how Lee performed, as well as the rest of the team.

“I’m very happy with our performance… I think we all did really well,” Stanfield said. “Our team members are very dedicated… people are amazed we place so well for a community college.”

The debates were held in a British Parliament or “BP” style, which is based around back-and-forth between the “government” and “opposition” teams that argue in favor of or in opposition of a “motion” proposed by the hypothetical “house.”

After being told the “motion”, debaters are given 15 minutes of prep time to form their arguments. During this time, they are not allowed to use the internet for research or consult with any member of their team that they are not participating with that round (ie in a two versus two format, you can talk to your direct team partner but not the other four, non-active members of your team).

“The hardest part about it is that you only have fifteen minutes, and you can’t use the Internet,” Stanfield commented. Topics are not released before hand, so if a debater doesn’t know or doesn’t know much about a given subject, they just “have to figure it out”, in Stanfield’s words.

This year’s topics included whether gun manufacturers should face legal and financial responsibilities for deaths caused by their products, whether pride parades have become too sexualized in recent years and whether ‘social media giants’ should be required to immediately disclose any information about Russian intervention, among other subjects.

Stanfield and Lee took first in the gun manufacturer debate, where they “ran it [as] an ethical argument” according to Stanfield, and second in the pride parade debate, where Stanfield argued that any kind of censorship at a pride parade would amount to “asking the gay community to go back into the closet.”

There’s a thing in debate we say, you have to go all-in or go home, and we just couldn’t go all in.”

— Richard Stanfield

One topic they didn’t do so well is was the motion that kneeling during the National Anthem is an ineffective method of protest. Stanfield and Lee both personally believe otherwise, but were assigned to argue in favor of the motion and therefore against kneeling, which Stanfield described as “difficult”.

“It’s really hard to argue [something] that you are vehemently against,” he stated, “There’s a thing in debate we say, you have to go all-in or go home, and we just couldn’t go all in.”

Despite setbacks like that, the team’s overall performance was still a triumph.

“I feel pretty good about my performance because I grew as a debater,” Marco McMullen mused. “We learned how to communicate, what we did wrong and right, and how we can improve ourselves. In the end it’s not all about the numbers.”

“I think our team did great,” debate team Vice President Kyle Marshall reflected. “We definitely put up a good fight against other four year universities we went against.”

For practice, the debate team officially meets once a week every Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:50 pm during class time, and usually two to three times a week outside of class on a voluntary basis. A highlight of the Wednesday meeting is co-coach Casey Gardner’s “Current Events Quiz”, held to make sure the students are up-to-date on current events that might be referenced at debate tournaments.

“It helps with the positive environment we set up in our practice,” said Marshall, adding the practices “give good adjudication to help improve our game.”

Overall, spirits are high after the early win, with Stanfield describing the team’s emotions as “lots of pride”.

The team is currently prepping for their next debate, the Dominican University Penguin Invitational on Nov. 4 and 5.