Debate Team Shows Off Again

July 01, 2016 - 2 minute read


CUI Debate Team

Concordia's steamroller of a debate team rolls on, with the debate squad finishing second at national - the fourth year in a row it has notched a first or second place finish nationally.

"We've consistently been the national champions or very close," says director of forensics, Konrad Hack. "Our strongest competitors are coming back next year so we anticipate doing very well again.

Just six years ago, the debate world didn't know a thing about Concordia Irvine.

"People wanted to know what a 'Concordia' was," Hack says. "Now they sit back and say, 'Oh great, Concordia.' There are plenty of schools out there that would rather not see our name next to theirs as the opponent."

The National Parliamentary Debate Association's culminating tournament offers debaters twenty to thirty minutes to prepare to debate the topic for that round of competition. Debators do not know topics in advance, only that topics can be drawn from current events or philosophy. Teams are permitted to consult with coaches and retrieve information from the Internet or any other source during preparation time. During the debate, they can only use notes written during preparation time.

Around 160 teams from more than 50 schools regularly participate at the national tournament. Every year since 2012, CUI has placed a team in the "sweet 16." In all but one of those years, a CUI team has reached the "elite 8." This year's stand-out teams include Monoah Marton and Judith Teruya (6-2, semifinalists), Keith Corley '16 and Matt Steck (6-2, triplet octofinalists), Luke Marvin and Brandon Winchel (6-2, triple octofinalists), and Ryan Reid '16 and Josh Vannoy (5-3, triple octofinalists).

The Eagles have advanced more teams to elimination rounds at the national tournament in recent years than much largers schools in the California State University System. Hack credits good debaters good coaches, and a supportive administration for the program's string of successes.

There are plenty of schools out there that would rather not see our name next to theirs as the opponent.

They are now building the speech side of the program with the goal of rising to the same level as the debate side. That was the plan of attack from the beginning.

"The provost told me to build the debate side first," Hack says. "Now we've started building the speech side, and they've already taken some pretty amazing steps forward."

CUI's debaters are still drawn primarily from homeschool leagues and community colleges. The program continues to thrive because of its two primary values, Hack says: strong preparation and work ethic, and valuing respect and diversity of opinion.

"We develop a camaraderie," he says. "We will disagree vociferously and passionately but that should never degrade another human. Everybody has the right to think what they think, and to challenge that. But we will do it in a respectful way that values everyone's humanity.

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