By 9 a.m. Saturday, freshman Rowan Macwan had dressed himself in a black suit, purple shirt, and brown work boots. He had run to the debate lounge to get notes and evidence. He had done all this just 30 minutes after freshman Joel Meng shook him awake and informed him he had to compete in Hillsdale College’s debate tournament.
The Hillsdale debate team held its second annual Lincoln-Douglas, or one-on-one, debate tournament this weekend. Students from Central Michigan University, Lafayette College, Capital University, and John Carroll University attended the event. Five novices from Hillsdale participated to get experience in an open tournament.
“We wanted less participants, because no one wants to go to a tournament where they have no chance to debate anyone but the host school,” said coach Matthew Doggett, assistant professor of rhetoric and public address. “Thus, we only entered debaters to make the tournament run smoother and guaranteed a certain number of people qualified for nationals.”
Following his hectic morning, Macwan took second place in the competition and received the third place speaker award. He said he was completely unprepared for the event and had to rely on notes provided by Meng.
“Originally I was just helping with the tournament, but last minute, we found out someone dropped out of the tournament, and so I filled in,” Macwan said.
Freshmen Alexandra Negrich, Natalie Van Handel, Kathleen Hancock, and Hannah Johnson also participated in the competition. Johnson and Hancock shared a spot, going 1 – 1 and 2 – 0 respectively. Because of their odd situation, it was decided that they wouldn’t go to finals.
“We needed a novice debater to participate so that others could qualify for nationals, but I had been sick, and my voice kept abandoning me last week,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure that I would be able to debate, so Dr. Doggett drafted Kathleen to fill in.”
The tournament coincided with Parents’ Weekend, which allowed some relatives to see their students compete, Doggett said.
“We had a couple of families come over and watch their child debate,” he said.