On Saturday, January 26th, the C&C debate team went to a debate tournament at NEST+M, on the Lower East Side. They debated four different propositions: “John Brown was morally justified,” “Websites should be held responsible for user-created data that they host,” “New York City should open supervised injection sites,” and “The US should substantially increase funding for space exploration.” Lucy McAllister-Nevins, XIs J, placed the highest out of any C&C student, and came in 6th place in the tournament. C&C will advance to the debate championships.
Debate is one of C&C’s most popular add ins. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, debate is run by Sarah Whittier, XIIsS teacher. It shows first timers how to debate, while it gives experienced debaters time to practice and improve. “Debate can also help get you into high schools. I mean, I know some people that go to debate just for the high school stuff,” said Felix Gaddie, XIIIs. “But I go because debate is fun.” Not only is debate one of the most popular add ins at C&C, it is also one of the most difficult. To be a good debater students have to be good at public speaking, research, thinking on their feet, and especially organization. Students will debate on such propositions as “Prison should focus on reform instead of punishment” and “New York City mosques should be used as polling stations,” to challenge themselves by thinking on either side of the argument. Max Beyer and Felix Gaddie, XIIIs, have been going to Debate for three years. “When I first did debate, I realized that I was actually learning to do all these important things, and getting better at public speaking,” said Max. They are some of the most experienced debaters in the afterschool program, as they have not only been participating in the class, but going to debate tournaments outside of C&C. Though many people go to debate, only eight or nine kids go to debate tournaments. To actually compete, students have to be confident in their abilities to debate, and they must do meticulous research on the topics of the debates beforehand. These tournaments are often pretty far away from the school, too. While some are just downtown, others are an hour away in New Jersey. For example, the next debate tournament is on March 9th in Tarrytown, NY. That is about an hour to an hour and a half away depending on traffic. On top of that, these tournaments can last up to eight or nine hours. These tournaments require a lot of dedication to attend. But debate tournaments can sometimes be frustrating. One thing that some students seem to get upset about is the judging system in debate. In a debate tournament, a judge will give speakers a certain number of points based on how well they did. Usually the points given are somewhere in between 70 and 80. Average speakers might be given 73 or 74 points while better speakers are given 76s, 77s or higher. But some judges tend to be a bit more generous than others. This difference can cause issues because getting a more generous judge or a more sparing judge will affect the outcome of the debate no matter how well a student performs. Benjamin Squires, XIs, said, “It depends on who the judge is. Sometimes it is even a bit easier to debate if the judge is a high school debater or a debate coach. They fairly judge people and even help the students with tips. But when parents judge, a lot of the time they don’t care about debate as much, and they can be pretty biased.”