Debate ranks at recent contest

The LMC Debate Team took part in a competitive tournament on their home turf last weekend against four other colleges and universities from around the state.

California Polytechnic State University, University of La Verne, Claremont College and UC Davis came to LMC Jan. 23 and 24 for the Steeltown Invitational to debate a variety of current event topics. LMC was the only community college competing against four-year universities.

Two LMC debate teams received first-place rankings Saturday, the first day of the two-day tournament: Yetunde Ogunleye and partner Sarah Zamjahn and Taylor Gonzales and partner Grace Babayan. LMC teams took two more first-place rankings Sunday: Richard Stanfield and partner Genaro Mauricio, and a second win for Ogunleye and Zamjahn.

The team was off to a good start receiving more rankings Saturday. Gonzales and Babayan ranked third-place in round three Saturday. LMC took two third-place rankings in round four: Collin Brown and his partner, former LMC student, Josh Noriega and one for Ogunleye and Zamjahn.

LMC Debate Team coach Kasey Gardner said that for the past few months, including winter break, the debate team put in hard work preparing for the tournament this past weekend.

“The strongest part of the debate team is that we have very good knowledge on current events,” said Gardner before the tournament.

The event was held in the Library, Science and Math buildings and was organized into four rounds Saturday and two rounds plus the finals Sunday.

Saturday’s debate topics varied from the silly to the serious, with debate motions including Batman, alternate time realities, geo engineering, financing news publications through the government, and the current racial controversy with the Oscars.

“A big moment was in our first-round yesterday we got the first place ranking and that made us feel really great throughout the rest of the day to compete,” said Gonzales about how she and Babayan performed Saturday.

“Today we just want to try to do that again,” said Gonzales. “If we can’t we’re OK with that too.”

Sunday’s debate topics for rounds five and six involved whether or not to prosecute the Bundy militia to bring a peaceable end to the recent occupation of the Malheur Natural Wildlife Preserve in Oregon, and whether the U.S. military should attempt to retrieve deserters from enemy captivity.

LMC speakers Babayan and Gonzales argued the Bundy militia motion but judging comments were critical that their argument was too close to the opening opposition’s.

Babayan explained a teammate once suggested the key to becoming a successful debater is to create a laundry list of strong arguments and to write down everything even some of the “crazy” arguments. Then, if by some chance, the other team pre-empts their intended strategy then at least there will be a laundry list to refer back to for help.

Despite this advice, Babayan found unique arguments can be difficult to make on the spot.

“As the semester is starting I feel like a new goal is how can we create new arguments? How can we think outside the box? How can we go outside of the conventional basic argument?” she said after her Sunday debate round.

Brown and Noriega, who debated the U.S. Military should not take action to retrieve deserters from enemy captivity, made strong arguments that retrieving deserters would put the U.S. lines in jeopardy but went a little off track, bringing up alternative ways to help deserters.

Brown said he and Noriega will be doing more communicating and collaborating to prepare for the next competition.

LMC speakers had good rankings throughout the weekend but not high enough to get them into the final round. The overall winner of the tournament was Claremont College.


The next stop for the Debate Team will be the USU Western Regional Championship at California Polytechnic State University, March 4-6.

If you have any questions about debate or want to learn more about joining the team please email team coaches Kasey Gardner at [email protected] or Marie Arcidiacono at [email protected]. You may also stop by weekly practices Wednesdays from 4 to 6:50 p.m. room CC 115.