High school debaters occupy campus
High school debaters swarmed Reid Campus Center during Halloween weekend. The debaters came to Whitman for the Whitman High School Speech and Debate tournament, which is one of the largest in the Northwest.
“This is the 36th year of the tournament. Remy Wilcox, former director of the program, began the tournament in 1973. Most of the schools attending have been to Whitman before but we have a few new schools,” said Professor Jim Hanson, who’s also the director of Forensics.
Featuring over four types of debates, nine speaking debates and a student congress, both high school and Whitman debaters will get a chance to work on their debate skills, whether it be judging or participating.
“Whitman debaters will judge them, providing feedback on how to improve their speeches and debating,” said Hanson.
Whitman debaters will benefit in a variety of ways. The tournament acts as a fund raiser for the debate program so Whitman debaters can travel to college tournaments.
“The high school tournament provides a huge portion of our team funding. I think judging helps newer college debaters get some perspective on macro-level strategic decision-making,” said junior Lewis Silver, who also helped judge.
Students will get to see old high school coaches or friends, and the tournament often attracts good debaters who, in most cases, end up coming to Whitman. It also enhances the reputation of Whitman and the debate program.
Usually, the tournament is not over Halloween weekend.
“The high school presence doesn’t really bother me, but it would have been nice to get to relax and be social. The tournament is kind of a full-time job for three days,” said Silver.
“It is unfortunate that we are on this weekend.â€¯The tournament isâ€¯supposed to beâ€¯next week but there was a scheduling snafu. I hopeâ€¯there won’tâ€¯be disruptions,” said Hanson.
“I was in a debate class last year and it got me started in debate. I’m a senior, so I’ve been doing speech, that requires less preparation. Impromptu — they give you a topic, 6 minutes to prepare and talk. I won an award for second place,” said senior Chloe Kinsey.
Most of the debates were held in buildings on campus like Olin and the Hall of Science.
“We were in the big auditorium last year but it was nice to be in a classroom,” said junior Ellen Hess. “There was a lot more room this year, which was a nice change.”
Though the debaters were here over Halloween weekend, the stress level was still very high, leaving less time
to celebrate Halloween.
“One morning we had to wake up at 5:50, and the last debate ended at 10:45. We ended up going to bed at midnight,” said junior Marina Johnson. “We were going to go trick-or-treating but we went to sleep instead.”
“We liked Whitman a lot — the food was good (with lots of options for vegetarians), the campus was pretty and there was a really natural, chill vibe on the campus,” said Hess.
Students may have been able to tell the debaters apart from regular Whitman students, considering the debaters were dressed formally.
“A lot of debaters wore business attire, heels, and ties. They also had the huge tubs with evidence and research…There are Idaho judges so they are a little more conservative, so we had to dress up,” said Johnson.
Whitman students could tell the debaters apart by their attire, but for the most part, students didn’t seem to be bothered by the debaters — unless they were at Reid.”
“It didn’t really affect my Halloween but it was kind of annoying because the debaters didn’t know how the system worked, especially at Reid when ordering food. They didn’t know what the numbers were or just kind of hovered near the Grill,” said freshman Carolyn Hart.
Though the debaters didn’t quite know the system, they weren’t much of a nuisance to regular Whitman students, and debaters both high school and college benefitted.
“It didn’t bother me that they were here over Halloween but I didn’t really see them outside of judging and at Reid Campus Center,” said freshman Maggie Massey who was hired as a coach for Ferris High School.
Filed under: News