Berkeley's student debaters win the national parliamentary championship
for the campus with their own money
Patricia McBroom, Public Affairs
The University of California, Berkeley, is this year's national
champion in college parliamentary debate, thanks to the performance
of its 25-member speech team throughout the season.
of UC Berkeley's speech-debate teams were among the highest
scoring debaters at a national tournament last weekend in Omaha,
Nebraska. The entire team's performance gave the campus a cumulative
score for the season that outranked 288 other colleges and universities
in the National Parliamentary Debate Association.
is a triumph for a forensic team that is all but completely
run and funded by the students themselves," said Genaro
Padilla, UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Affairs.
campus's forensics program raises money by holding the Cal Invitational,
a three-day forensics tournament for high school students that
draws more than 1,000 students from throughout the country to
UC Berkeley each year. The $45,000 proceeds from that event
- the largest high school tournament in the country - support
the campus's entire forensics program, which includes traditional
debate and individual speech events.
addition this year, the family of one debater, Karson Kalashian,
contributed $10,000 for the speech team to travel to several
national tournaments they missed last year for lack of funds.
travel, the gift was used to increase the size of the team,
raising UC Berkeley's standing from ninth last year, to first.
only reason we could do as much as much as we did was because
of Karson and his father. We are very grateful to them,"
said Che Johnson, UC Berkeley's director of forensics, who is
an undergraduate in political science.
himself a national winner in parliamentary debate, led the speech
team to victory in debate tournaments that are completely extemporaneous.
Debaters have only 15 minutes to prepare for topics that may
range from expanding NATO membership to campaign finance reform
or the pros and cons of individual rights versus community rights.
They have no idea beforehand what the debate topic will be.
style of debating, carried out by the speech team, contrasts
with traditional debate in which the topic is known by everyone
for a year. UC Berkeley's traditional debate team is competing
currently in national competition in Kansas.