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Lydia Eberly

With all my individual speaking experience, I didn’t bat an eye at a job interview for a position teaching English in Japan, and was able to make a demonstration on the spot on any topic they threw at me. I got that job, and I’m already planning the self-introductory speech I’ll give (in Japanese!) at my first school assembly next fall. My confidence in all of these situations comes from the familiarity with speaking I’ve gotten from forensics. There’s no need to be nervous. I have a whole shelf full of trophies proving that I know how to talk!  While my competitive speaking days may be over, I know that the skills I have gained will last me a lifetime.




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Matt Schissler

Debate has made me fluent on issues as various as constitutional conventions, agriculture on the West Coast, and intellectual property law, both foreign and domestic. What’s even better, I know I’m touching barely the tip of the iceberg on these and many other issues. But debate has given me the tools to take my research to deeper levels, if and when I want. These research skills are no small thing. They’re responsible for the grades I earn. They’re responsible for my job this summer, and the one I had last summer. Most importantly, they help shape and enable my growth.




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Sally Sorte

My participation on the parliamentary debate team has significantly enriched my Sophomore year of college. Debate allowed me to break out of the utopian Whitman bubble by traveling to tournaments, and kept me up-to-date on current events through extemp research and writing parli cases.  The value and applicability of debate became particularly apparent this Spring in the midst of the immigration controversy.  As I marched in the protest against HR-4437, covered protests for Whitman's newspaper, and debated the issue in my politics class, I found the scope of my arguments extended beyond my personal experience to integrate national and international politics, history, and impacts that I have learned through debate. This was my first year of debate and I'm hooked!




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Stephen Reed

Debate has helped me achieve many goals. The oratorical skills I exercise in rounds translates into an interview setting. Any success I enjoy from fellowships, internships, and jobs will be due to hours I spend with my teammates, discussing solutions for various problems.




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Ross Richendrfer

Debate is fun. I don't know how this is humanly possible, but debate feels fun the same way that playing basketball feels fun. Because it is a competitive activity, each win feels like an enormous success and each loss hits you really hard. Being a competitive person who unfortunately can't dunk a basketball, debate is great because it serves as a space where I can still compete, just in a different way. With the adrenaline rush of a debate round comes a quiet form of self-confidence, knowing that if I work hard enough and if I think hard enough, I can be as good at this activity as any basketball player is at their activity.



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Annie Hickman

This was my first year on a debate team.  Unlike most of the team, I had never debated in high school. In fact, my school didn’t even have a team.  Understandably, I was nervous.  I knew nothing about the stereotypical “debater” world.  Also, I didn’t really know anyone on the team, and expected everyone to be cold and pedantic.  Luckily, I was wrong.  My teammates turned out to be friendly and eager to teach me all about debate.  Sure, they had their quirks but that made them all the more willing to accept mine.  Now we’ve become sort of like a family, and whether we’re watching South Park reruns, arguing about the efficacy of social movements, or looking up Jim Hanson on, we’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time.  There’s no debating that.




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Jeff Wilson

When doing extemp at Western Washington University I was given the topic “What will Bush’s legacy be in Iraq?” After talking briefly with my teammates about what the best approach would be to the topic, we decided that I would describe both Bush’s legacies in Iraq, and the similarities that they shared. Being my first tournament competing in extemp, I wasn’t very experienced yet at how to put things together. After finding some really good sources, I went to give my speech. The speeches had gotten out of order (something I wasn’t used to as a novice) so I got a little more nervous just before I went in. When I saw who my judge was, a guy with whom I was very familiar, I relaxed a little bit and delivered the speech with as much panache as I possibly could, ending with a 2nd in the round. I learned the value of consulting my teammates and adding humor and a relaxed element to my speech giving.




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Meghan Hughes

Upon entering the Whitman debate program I was amazed at how organized practices and drills were and I was slightly intimidated because I was fairly inexperienced and was a not a very technical debater. But, Jim and the coaching staff have invested long and hard hours in making sure I improve as debater. As a result of being in a top-notch program that gives opportunities to inexperienced high school debaters I have improved dramatically in terms of my debate skill and my ability to advance to elimination rounds at tournaments. This program not only teaches students how to improve as debaters, but it really fosters a community. The policy debate team has provided me with life-long friends and an awesome support system. I know without a doubt that if I have a problem I can go to either Jim, Aaron, or individuals on the team and they will drop everything to help me.




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Mike Meredith

Joining the policy debate squad, in terms of workload, is like adding another two or three classes onto your schedule. But, it is one off the most effective and educational classes available to any college student. Policy debate is an activity practiced nationwide. Students are asked (in teams of two) to propose and debate about a policy action that the federal government should take to remedy a problem. Debaters spend their summers and a good part of the regular school year researching, learning about, and developing strategies concerning the issue proposed. During my involvement in the activity I’ve discussed privacy, weapons of mass destruction, mental health legislation, ocean policy, energy policy and foreign policy towards China in incredible depth that I would not have been able to do absent being involved in this activity.




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Candi Kissinger

As a freshman from a small debate squad in Idaho, I was very surprised when Jim Hanson decided to take a chance on allowing me to debate at Whitman. I was excited when I learned I was on the team, but started dreading it as soon as I learned about the summer prep session. A million questions started running through my mind—Was I going to be the worst new freshman? Would I have friends? Would people make fun of me because I wasn’t very good at cutting cards? The prep session came and went and I survived it with several new friends and a lot of help not only in debate, but in picking my classes, and playing poker for the first time. Over the year, I realized how much I had improved and how all of the things I was once worried about were not important anymore and that I was no longer the little girl from Idaho, but the little girl from Whitman.




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Rob Olsen

Debate has been one of the best experiences of my life. It is the only activity I have been involved in for 8 years and counting. I debated not just for the real world value, but because of the people involved. The debate community is an amazing group of individuals. While I debated for Whitman College I made friends across the Northwest, and even the nation. Some of my good friends debate for UPS and the University of Montana and if it were not for debate, I would not know them at all. Debate also creates strong interpersonal ties between team members and coaches. Many of my closest friends are on the debate team and spending weekends at tournaments with them brought us closer. At the same time, new debaters come every year to Whitman College and meeting them has been incredible. I learn new things from every member on the team.




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Eric Suni

In my four years on the team, Whitman’s program has always represented important values in debate. We are known as one of the hardest-working teams in the country, but at the same time, we share a mutually supportive team atmosphere that is not found very often in such a competitive activity. The past two years at the National Debate Tournament (NDT) have exemplified this team mentality. Though only a limited number of teams from Whitman can compete at the NDT, ALL of our team members willingly sacrificed countless time (on Spring Break, no less), sleep, and energy to help our teams at the NDT. While this has been an educational process and experience for everyone involved, it is also much much more than that: it is a recognition that when any one of us wins, our whole team wins—and we would not have it any other way.




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Luke Sanford

In the second elimination round of the CEDA national tournament my partner and I debated the first ranked team in the nation—a scary and thrilling experience. We went into the round thinking that we would be beaten very badly. However, as the round progressed, it changed from a terrifying experience to a really fun debate where we shared jokes and also explored the China debate further than we had in any debate up until that point. After the round, the judges decided that we had lost the debate (understandably) but also said that we had done far better than they had expected--clearly a result of all of our hard work as well as the work of all of our teammates and the incredible coaching that we had received.  We ended the year on our best debate ever.




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Brie Coyle

Debate has become the focal point where all of my classes, education and experiences come together.  There are rarely classes that teach us how to situate our politics course in relation to our sociology or environmental studies courses.  Debate uniquely enables me to recognize, understand, practice, and formulate relationships between seemingly disparate things—courses, philosophies, policies, and everything between!



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Andrew Stokes

My participation in policy debate at Whitman was valuable in numerous ways.  It has helped me academically.  I now feel much more comfortable than I previously would have with my ability to construct and evaluate an argument.  This proves extremely useful when it comes to class discussions or papers.  I can write papers much more quickly and concisely than many students based on the skills I have gained from debate.  In addition to these academic benefits, I have countless great memories of spending time and developing close friendships with members of the debate team.  The large amount of time I have spent with other debaters has made them some of the closest friends I have ever known.




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Hugo Vargas

I remember my first debate round very vividly. It was the longest hour and eight minutes of my life. We were beat from the first speech. We were running disarm and, well it turns out I didn't get to solvency. Now keep in mind that this was my first encounter with the activity and my knowledge of the structure of a 1AC was vague at best. My partner was in no better situation. The negative team apparently knew enough about the structure of debate to call us on our mistake. And the judge's decision was a pretty easy decision to make and we lost. Debate is a game of logic, it plays with the limits of reason by constructing intuitively unlikely scenarios as latent realities. Logic becomes a razorsharp critical apparatus. In my novice debate round it was an easy checkmate but I have learned that it can get much more exciting than that.




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Andrew Kelly

One of my favorite memories relating to the debate team this year was at the Whitman Parli tournament. It was great to be able to have the familiarity of home as an advantage in competition. What I liked most was that the Policy kids were on hand to help us out with the arguments and positions we were preparing for. I specifically remember several rounds where Matt Schissler and Andrew Stokes helped my partner and I construct a negative strategy that completely sunk the other team and that one judge deemed as one of the most well planned and executed negative strategies he's seen in a long time. That tournament was a great example of how well the Policy and Parli squads can relate and work together.




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Jake Ginsbach

As a college freshman, it was only a short while ago that I was searching for colleges. I was concerned that I would be unable to be a part of a competitive college debate program given that my high school in Wyoming had limited funding and travel opportunities. However, Whitman College, specifically Jim Hanson, played an important role in recruiting me to come to Whitman and participate in debate. As a result of this opportunity, I have been able to improve my skills with the support of a great coaching staff and upperclassmen and women. But the greatest personal competitive successes were the times that Whitman’s older, more competitive teams were able to win critical rounds because of work that I and other underclass people had done.




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James Hovard

Debate has allowed me to learn and succeed in ways that I didn’t think was possible.  I came to Whitman with absolutely no debate experience and have been able to be successful.  It has enhanced my communication skills, as well as helped develop warrants to my political affiliations.  I can now frame my own ideas and know that I really do support them.  Because of this, I am now able to stick behind what I feel is right in my everyday life.  My own personal ideals have become strengthened and I am more confident in what I believe in.




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Chris Chamness

After studying abroad in Paris and returning to debate this spring, I have rediscovered several values of debating at Whitman. Parliamentary debate has instilled in me the desire to know global issues and understand how world events can influence other societies. My French family was shocked at my knowledge of contemporary issues, not only taking place in France but around the world. I have been exposed to critical perspectives while debating that expand far beyond what I have been taught in class. Something I really missed while studying in France was the friends I have made on the team. Debate is far more than just a cerebral activity; it is a chance to develop camaraderie with people who share similar interests.




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Kathryn Bergh

I was always one of those kids who turned bright red and started shaking like a leaf when I had to speak in front of an audience.  Six years later, my participation in debate has given me an enormous amount of confidence in my ability to clearly present complex arguments to a broad variety of audiences.  It's difficult to explain to non-debaters why debate is such a wonderful activity.  A lot of people don't understand why reading really fast and talking about relatively obscure things is fun, which only strengthens the strong connection I feel with the other members of my team.  My participation on the debate team, a group of friends that quite literally speak my language and share both my interests and experiences in debate, has provided many of my fondest memories from my four years at Whitman.




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Sam Allen

Debate has taught me many things throughout the course of my first year at Whitman. The China topic took my research experience in a variety of directions. I conducted research on topics ranging from bird flu to the way that China affects global deforestation. The research I did over the course of the year was fulfilling in a way that even my class work could not meet. My knowledge of Chinese protections on their airline industry affect both the cargo and passenger airlines in the United States is very extensive.




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Ben Meiches

I would divide the benefits of being on the team into two categories. Firstly, I love being with the team. We have an incredible sense of camaraderie and togetherness that I believe can only be the product of working with so many talented, kind, and brilliant people for so many hours over the course of the year. The second aspect of policy debate is the research. Even my most research intensive classes pale in comparison to the work we do in policy debate. I am amazed at the amount of intricate historical, social, and political details I have learned by the end of the year. I have learned so much information from debate, but most importantly, more than anything else, debate has taught me how to learn. For someone considering a career in education this is a very magical gift.




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Eric Chalfant

For me, the best part of debate is the team camaraderie. We put in so many hours before every tournament, and the night after all of our work has paid off during a long day of debating, it is always a blast to just relax and do something fun together.  It's right after the tournament ends and before the anxiety of catching up on school work sets in and we are all sleep-deprived and exhausted, mentally and physically.  Whether it is as simple as a late-night adventure to Denny's or watching a terrible movie in a hotel or as elaborate as a trip to a theme park or a trek through downtown Berkeley, the team really comes together and the stress and pressure of the tournament melts away into joking and playing. The Whitman debate team really is more than the sum of its parts, and I've never witnessed another team as unified and supportive as ours.  I'm proud to be a part of that.




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Nav Rekhi

I remember my first trip to the California swing during Christmas break of my freshman year. Eric and I were preparing ourselves to debate Berkeley's top team, which was ranked first in the nation  at the time. The most assuring advice came from Charles Olney and Thad Blank, who told Eric and me to have fun this round and to not stress out. It honestly changed the way that I thought about debate at the time--the best way to succeed in the activity was to learn from your opponents and to enjoy the activity. Eric and I did not win the debate round but we came out of the room with a greater appreciation for our opponents and our peers. As I graduate from Whitman, I know that I will really miss the Whitman debate community.




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Jeff Buntin

Debate has undoubtedly been the most significant academic (and, hey, probably social) experience of my life. Every time I write a paper for class or do a research project, I feel more capable and more prepared to succeed because of debate. I read somewhere that the average undergraduate policy debater does the equivalent of a Masters’ thesis worth of work on each year’s topic, and I believe it. In my classes I’ve consistently been more familiar with Whitman’s research databases, the library, and the ways to gather support for an argument than many of my classmates. The Whitman debate team is so notorious on campus for being a research powerhouse that I’m even sometimes approached by non-debaters who are looking for files on a given topic they’re studying, and come to us instead of the library.




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Chris Fryefield

One of the events that I have enjoyed most this year was extemp. I really like extemp, and I wanted to do well in it, so I started working to cut more articles myself and encouraging other team members to print out their sources and include them. Working on the tubs helped me become more familiar with using Excel to organize lots of information, which has come in very handy for my research projects. I’m proud that, by the end of the season, our tubs contained very useful information. Also, Jim was nice enough to buy us a copy of the CIA World Factbook, which should be incredibly useful for extemp and parli prep. Since I had some success this year in extemporaneous speaking, it did not come as a big surprise to me that my award for the season was “Queen of Extemp.”