The Hillsdale College debate team excelled in their first debate tournament of the spring semester. Traveling to Webster University in St. Louis, Hillsdale saw stiff competition from 42 other collegiate teams at the Gorlok Gala.
The Gala is the largest tournament the team has competed in this season. The debate team performed well, winning debate sweepstakes with a perfect score. Hillsdale debaters competed in all three forms of debate: parliamentary, Lincoln Douglas, and public forum.
“Competition is extremely strong,” junior Hannah Johnson said. “It’s also a particularly difficult tournament because you’re just coming off Christmas break and haven’t had as much time to practice.”
In parliamentary, five out of the six teams broke out of the regular competition to compete in out rounds. Three Lincoln Douglas debaters broke to out rounds as well. Most team members competed in multiple events and had back-to-back rounds all day. One round typically lasts an hour.
“For those that were in both events, the closest thing you got to a lunch break was coming and grabbing a snack and then running to your next round,” Lambrecht said. “The first day is pretty intense if you’re in multiple formats. After that, it gets a little bit softer.”
Gorlock was junior Joel Meng’s first tournament in a year. He participated in both public forum and parliamentary debate. Meng and Tom Southwell went 2 – 2 in their public forum rounds. In parliamentary, Meng and partner, junior Lucy Meckler, took second place.
“Lucy is amazing,” Meng said. “We hadn’t debated together for over a year. It’s really a testament to how good of a debater she is.”
On the parliamentary side of things, sophomore Caleb Lambrecht said he saw some unusual debate tactics. Many teams ran critiques — arguments that contest the validity of the debate subject. In one parliamentary round, Lambrecht and his partner had to prove whether or not Brexit was good for the UK. Their opponents came in and argued that the debate should not even take place as Brexit and the UK are institutions founded in whiteness and to debate would be participated in white supremacy.
“You run into some really wacky arguments in the critiques,” Lambrecht said. “There were a lot of those we ran into this weekend, more than I’ve ever seen at any other tournament. That made it pretty challenging.”