Catching up with the Speech and Debate Team
After qualifying two teams for the National Debate Tournament (NDT) held in March at Indiana University, Binghamton University’s Speech and Debate Team ended the season ranked third in its district, behind only Harvard and Cornell, 8th in the nation overall and 21st in the nation at the varsity level.
Binghamton teams have qualified for the NDT eight times since 2005, but this was the first time in five years that two Binghamton teams had qualified for the 78-team field: one a team comprised of freshman Jesus Cepin and sophomore Lenny Herrara, who specifically transferred to Binghamton from Towson University to debate; the other with senior Trevor Reddick and sophomore Dhruv Sehgal, a student in only his second year of debate.
The NDT represents the top level of national competition in the country and to qualify these students competed against debaters who often had seven or eight years of experience.
Along with qualifying two teams, Binghamton also won the Northeast JV Regional Championship with a ballot count of 15-0. (As an aside, the championship team of two – Brandon Evans and Brittney Bleyle – became engaged shortly before the regional competition while debating together.) Binghamton’s team also includes Jesse Smith, the third-ranked individual novice debater in the country.
For those unfamiliar with Binghamton’s Speech and Debate Team, it is split into two sections:
• The speech section focuses on the art of speech, including prose and poetry, extemporaneous speaking and humorous interpretation, and additionally competes in its own unique form of debate.
• The debate section competes in policy tournaments around the country, and Binghamton debate is consistently one of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Policy debaters compete at three different levels: Novice, Junior Varsity, and Varsity. The team works collectively with members of all experience levels in order to prepare them for competitions and to help them build the skills and confidence necessary to become great public speakers.
Binghamton’s team also hosted its annual online tournament in April, through an interface programmed by a team member in conjunction with the Computer Science Department. Registrants this year included ones from Singapore, China, Canada, Japan and the U.S. To see what a completed round looks like, go online.
Active on campus, team members also participated in a public debate sponsored by the Evolutionary Students Program (EvoS) in early May. The topic? Evolutionary Psychology and Feminism. See the full debate online.
And also in May, the team hosted Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder, in a public debate on the value of the law in pursuing animal rights and environmental conservation. See coverage of the debate on the team’s Facebook page.