RMC Debate season wraps up with U.S., international tournaments, article by David Fejeran, photo courtesy RMC Debate

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RMC’s Debate Team saw a busy month in March. The team taught debate at the local Tribal Colleges, hosted an International-themed Trivia Night during International Week, and traveled to two tournaments in New York and Jamaica.

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The Debate Team kicked off this month with a trip to the local Tribal Colleges to teach debate. Through a grant from the Open Society Institute, the RMC Debate Team has the opportunity to take the knowledge they learn from both the debate classes offered at RMC, as well as the behind-the-lectern experience of debating in international tournaments, and use it to teach debate at the colleges on local Indian Reservations. RMC Debate went to Poplar, Montana, and taught debate to what Junior Molly Davis identified as a very interactive and enthusiastic group of students. When asked about the benefits of the program, Davis stated, “[the] great part of being able to participate in this experience was that you not only teach from it, but you also learn from it as well. Speech and debate skills are crucial in the world of communication today, and to be able to help others better themselves in this area, is beneficial to anyone involved.”

Following instruction at the Tribal College, RMC Debate participated in a tournament at Kings College in New York City, where they competed with teams from Vermont, NYU, and Trinity College. Debate topics included everything from economic and political and social justice, sex strikes, technological security, and even Donald Trump’s candidacy. The tournament proved especially beneficial for freshman Marcus Twitchell, who appreciated the high-stakes competition. “New York was a great experience. It forced me to think differently about how I construct arguments. The judges pushed for more depth here than in other tournaments, and I learned a lot from their advice,” he said.

RMC Debate also continued their tradition of hosting a Trivia Night this semester, this time in concert with International Week. Each semester, the Debate Society hosts a Trivia Night fundraiser that brings teams together across campus and throughout the Billings community to hone their knowledge of random facts and put them to competitive use. This semester’s trivia festivities featured rounds on Irish culture and history (chosen specifically for Saint Patrick’s Day), international holidays in general, as well as current events. Coach Shelby Long-Hammond emphasized the importance of Trivia Night, not just for Debate, but for RMC in general. “It’s fun to learn about other cultures and events that are happening, and even more to learn with other people. Trivia Night and Debate is an all-encompassing way to do that,” she said.

The Debate Team also had the chance to send two debaters to compete in an international tournament in Jamaica from March 24-27. Long-Hammond went with debaters Molly Davis and Alexander Orokotan. This was the first time since 2009 that RMC sent debaters to a tropical island (the last destination being Hawai’i), and the first time ever RMC sent debaters to the Caribbean. The decision to go to Jamaica was different from the recent trend to go to European tournaments, but is nevertheless reflective of the club’s desire to learn from other cultures’ perspectives.

RMC Debate will continue this momentum into April when they will host a faculty/alumni debate.

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