As we propel further into the Fall 2015 semester, the Rocky Mountain College Debate Society has solidified its role on campus by taking steps toward better international representation, education, and campus & community involvement.
During the first week of the school year, RMC Debate sent four of their finest debaters to an open tournament in Athens, Greece.Held on the American College of Greece’s campus, the tournament showcased the talents of debaters from fourteen different countries, with each team providing their own background and expertise on a variety of debate topics. RMC’s debaters held their ground as they debated everything from the Iran Nuclear Deal to Football (which is supposedly what Europeans call “soccer”), to Donald Trump’s campaign.
The trip to Greece served as an educational experience both behind and beyond the lectern. RMC debaters toured the streets of Athens, catch- ing sights such as the first Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, Hadri- an’s Arch, and of course the Acropolis. In exploring the history of Athens, the team learned a great deal about the foundations of democracy, the birth of Western philosophy, and the importance of Greece in the context of world history.
Jack Jennaway, a sophomore Communication Studies and Political Science major, is thankful for the opportunity to debate where Western debate itself was born. “Debate has been extremely beneficial to me. Not only did I get a chance to travel to Athens, which taught me so much, but Debate also taught me better speaking skills, to question my own views, and to see both sides of every issue.”
Debate has helped so many of RMC’s students like Jack succeed in argumentation, communication, and education, and the Debate Society hopes to continue providing those opportunities for growth with those joining the team this year. Just two weekends ago, RMC Debate sent al- most all of their debaters to a tournament/workshop at Carroll College, where the team made a formidable impression on all of the colleges represented there.
There are many possible tournaments the team might partake in this year, including but not limited to events in New York, Seattle, Edmonton, and Jamaica. Each tournament offers a new perspective on social issues as well as an opportunity to learn about the many communities and soci- eties outside the “Rocky Bubble.” As coach Shelby Long-Hammond puts it, “It’s great to interact with other cultures and other perspectives and still be competitive. It’s a great opportunity for this school to be known in Hungary and Ireland. People are starting to know who we are, and it changes their perspective on debate. It’s good for us, and it’s good for everybody.”
As fun and educational as tournaments may be, it is only the tip of the iceberg of what RMC Debate hopes to accomplish this year. As a society, its goal is to interact with the school and the Billings community to make debate something that’s not just for nerds. In the past, RMC Debate has held multiple public events that it hopes to host again this year. Twice last year, RMC Debate put together a Trivia Night, where RMC students and faculty as well as members of the Billings Community came together, learned a few useless facts, and won Amazon.com, Burger Dive, and City Brew gift cards. In addition, last year the Debate Society joined forces with Spiritual Life in a charity event that brought awareness to the problems associated with illiteracy in schools and how best to address those issues.
RMC Debate seeks to continue the successful programs it has had in the past, and it hopes to develop new programs that bring in more cam- pus involvement in the future. There are already talks underway within the leadership of the Debate Society about having more public debates on hot topics in the news. Some events may even involve debating against RMC alumni. There are hopes that the society will even pit team members against RMC faculty in an all-out intellectual brawl. Who knows who’ll be up for the challenge (maybe even President Wilmouth)?
The Rocky Mountain College Debate Society certainly has a lot on its plate this semester, but if there’s anything that can be learned from the events it held last year, it’s that RMC Debate accepts the challenge and will kick butt until it succeeds.