First place is no stranger to the members of Whitman’s Debate Team, but this fall they took the lead in a new race: Whitman’s paperless debaters are the greenest in the country.

Whitman has been one of the most technologically advanced programs in the country for many years, said Jim Hanson, professor of forensics and debate coach. Until this fall, however, the team still printed thousands of pages of research materials that needed to be transported to every tournament in large, cumbersome plastic tubs

Hanson planned to move toward computer-only debate in the 2009-2010 academic year, but the airline industry’s implementation of ever-higher fees for luggage--and large plastic tubs of paper--jump-started the effort to go paperless. Determined cutting-edge macro programming by Aaron Hardy, policy debate coach, and the team’s willingness to try, said Hanson, have the team debating off laptops this fall.

“The switch is saving trees and printing costs, and it has made getting to and from tournaments much easier,” said Hanson, three-time debate coach of the year (once national, once Washington State and a third from a Pepperdine tournament.) “We’ve talked to many other teams interested in moving to paperless debating.” A Denver team made an attempt several years ago, but without the macro program for setting up speaking documents that Whitman now has, and didn’t catch on.

The paperless condition seems to agree with his team. “In policy debate Nate Cohn ’10 and Daniel Straus ’11 won seven debates in a row to advance to the semi-finals at the national circuit Georgia State tournament. This third-place showing followed a fifth place showing at the season opener at Gonzaga University. Five other Whitman teams were among the upper seeds at the tournament including sophomore Nick Griffin ’11 and Jon Riley ’12, Lewis Silver ’10 and Allison Humble ’12, Dave Mathews ’10 and Ali Edwards ’10, Spencer Janyk ’10 and Blake Barnett ’12, and Brian Cole ’12 and Alex Zendeh’12.

The policy teams are debating whether agriculture subsidies should be cut. In parliamentary debate, said Hanson, Whitman advanced seven teams into elimination rounds at the season opener at Pacific Lutheran University, more than any other school at the tournament. The team was led by new parliamentary debate and individual events coach Mike Meredith ’08.

Whitman absolutely dominated the novice division going 22-2. John-Henry Heckendorn ’12 and Galen Phillips ’10 won the novice division. Genevieve Venable ’12 and Tim Wilder ’12 too second. Charlie Weems ’12 and Michael Bell ’11 placed third, and Peter Qualtere-Burcher ’12 and Sara Rasmussen ’12 placed fifth. In the senior division, Whitman advanced three teams to the octa-finals: Brie Coyle ’09 and Ali Edwards ’10, Chris Fleming ’11 and Paul Wyatt ’12, and Dave Mathews ’10 and Carson Booth ’09. At the tournament, Whitman’s parliamentary debaters talked about the issues of free trade, green buildings, renewable energy, and relations with Russia and Iran. The squad is looking forward to tournaments at the University of Kentucky; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Idaho State University and University of Puget Sound during October.


CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156