The Debate Program at Drury University, while only a year old, recently won first place at the National Debate Tournament. We spoke with the team to learn more about the group and its success.
Drury Debater Lindsey Duede takes a firm position on foreign relations in a mock debate during a practice session with her teammates. While this program been around a short time, there’s a keen sense of comradery between the roughly 10 group members.
Charles DeBerry is a professor of communication and the director of the Drury Debate program.
“Something tremendously amazing happened and in their first year of competition, they won the National Tournament of Team Debate, and so we’ve had a phenomenally successful year of reestablishing the debate program at Drury.”
After he assembled the program, the group chose International Public debate which, in Deberry’s opinion, is the “best form of debate.” With this format, competitors don’t know their debate topic until 30 minutes before they are to perform, so much of the debate is extemporaneous.
“It forces tremendous creativity, tremendous breadth of knowledge going in because you got to know a little bit about a lot of things. So it increases creativity, critical thinking, and it also highly emphasizes communication skills and persuasion.”
While this was challenging at first, DeBerry states that this practice of extemporaneous speaking is a good skill to have, no matter what job or career the students go into.
“If got to think quickly, and think critically, and then also give the best expression of your ideas in a persuasive manner, that’s going to catapult people’s careers.”
Drury Debate members represent a variety of majors, from biology to journalism. Ameran Link is one of those members, and is a junior studying English, Creative Writing, and French. She and her partner Kris Rose won 1st place in the team competition at Nationals. She says the program will help each teammate in their future careers.
“We’re really diverse as far as what we want to do with our careers, but any of us are going to benefit in a very huge way from the ability to communicate that’s been garnished from this program.”
While they may seem serious in debates, there is an obvious sense of friendship amongst the team. DeBerry says this form of comradery comes from traveling together and living with one another for about six months.
Mallory Pinson, a sophomore double major in Economics and Political Science who was recognized as the #1 speaker in individual debate at Nationals, joined the team around the same time as Link.
“There are other members of the team that have personalities that are the opposite of mine, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know their personalities and also adjust to cooperate on a team basis with people that are just as driven and passionate about this activity as I am.”
DeBerry says he’s grateful for this year’s group of students.
“They’re an incredible group of people to work with, they’re smart, they’re funny, and I could use the other cliché and say it’s like family.”
As for the coming years, DeBerry states that he’s looking to expand the team, and possibly even have a junior varsity league compete at competitions.