UM-Flint Debate Team Open for New Membership

Interested in argumentation, debate, or just speaking your mind? If so, UM-Flint’s debate team is worth checking out. Since its inception, the team has brought ideas, wit, and even some humor to the most intricate of topics. The current director of debate is Brain Schrader, PhD, a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies.

“Debate is great because it is a fun and competitive activity, much like sports participation,” said Schrader. “It is also a pastime that is academically and intellectually rigorous.”

The team competes in British Parliamentary Debate, also known as World’s Style. This type of debate consists of four teams, two of which argue on the affirmative side and two on the negative side of an issue, rather than just two squads, according to Schrader.

Each competition has six to eight debates, each with their own topic. According to Schrader, topics tend to be about social, cultural, and political issues. However, students have only 15 minutes to prepare for the debate with no internet usage or help from coaches. The team they are on is also assigned.

The debate team travels to various competitions each semester. Recently, the club participated in matches in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Colorado, and Seattle. At the events, they compete against scholastic institutions from around the country. The club also hosts matches at UM-Flint.

“In 2015 and 2016, we hosted a group of debaters from Rwanda for a campus public debate,” said Schrader. “We plan to have them back in the fall of 2018. We also co-hosted a roundtable discussion regarding free speech with the political science club and some other student groups last winter…we (also) participated in the Election Debate Watch Party and Discussion hosted by University Outreach and [the] Women’s Educational Center, who served as small group discussion moderators.”

Members find participation in the debate club a positive experience for educational, as well as personal reasons.

“I really enjoy being a member of the team,” said Jacob DePottey, UM-Flint sophomore majoring in physics. “At first, I was a little apprehensive because I am not much of a debater, lover of confrontation, and not a very good public speaker. However, since joining, I feel as if I have really started to grow and come out of my shell.”

DePottey further discussed his personal growth since joining the club.

“Although I have a long way to go, I feel much more comfortable when talking about controversial topics and just talking to others in general. The team has also taught me what it means to come up with a well-versed, intelligent argument. In this debate format, participants are often forced to debate on sides of topics that don’t align with their personal views. This experience has taught me so much about forming a well-rounded opinion and understanding the other side of issues. This will help in the professional, working world.”

DePottey recommends the experience to his fellow students.

“If I could tell students one thing about the team, I would just simply tell them to join,” said DePottey. “If I, a shy introvert, can do it and end up loving it, so can you–just come to a practice and see for yourself.”

The debate club is open to all students. Schedules of competitions are posted, but the winter listing of events has not yet been set. Practices are in room 3203 of the William S. White Building every Tuesday at 5:30 until 7 p.m., however, this is applicable to change.

For further information, contact Schrader at [email protected]