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Spring 1999

On Debating

Whitman College has long championed various forms of debating. Beyond the debate team, dozens of additional students participate in Whitmanšs annual intramural debate program. And many more become involved in both formal and informal classroom debates.

Effective oral advocacy and debate skills are a powerful resource for those who are preparing for leadership in any field. Among the many qualities of a leader are the ability to think clearly and the ability to define, defend, and convincingly promote strongly held views and values. It is hard to avoid getting into debates ‹ in campaigns, in legislative bodies, in board of directors meetings, in faculty meetings, in citizen forums, and at both the U.N. and town meetings.

Even an introductory exposure to the art and techniques of debating proves invaluable for those who enter civic and professional life.

Debates can be exacting as well as exhilarating. Debating tests onešs capacity to listen and to speak as nothing else does. Exceedingly few people are truly effective debaters. But anyone can learn to debate, and, like most skills, it is something that can be acquired with practice. We celebrate debate at Whitman as an essential liberal art and we encourage those who want to be leaders to become as good as they can be in the ancient and much celebrated art of public speaking.


- President Tom Cronin