Debate coach Matthew Dogget, sophomore Jadon Buzzard (pic­tured), and sophomore T.J. Wilson traveled to the Horton Cup Debate Tour­nament in Sacra­mento, CA. The group planned to look for the dif­fer­ences between Midwest and Western Lincoln Douglas debates ahead of the national com­pe­tition in Cal­i­fornia this semester. Katrina Torsoe | Courtesy

Two members of the Hillsdale Debate Team traveled to Cal­i­fornia on a scouting trip of sorts with hopes of returning with infor­mation on the dif­fer­ences between Midwest and West Coast Lincoln Douglas debate.

Between the Midwest and the West Coast, there are not many Lincoln Douglas debate pro­grams. The teams that Hillsdale College usually sees at com­pe­tition hail from the Midwest and Eastern seaboard.  This spring, however, the National Forensics Tour­nament is located in Los Angeles, CA. Coach Matthew Doggett and team members sophomore Jadon Buzzard and sophomore T.J. Wilson traveled to the Horton Cup Debate Tour­nament in Sacra­mento, CA. Both Buzzard and Wilson broke into the open rounds; Wilson made it to quar­ter­finals and Buzzard to semi­finals.

“This tour­nament def­i­nitely lived up to Hillsdale stu­dents rejoice in the chal­lenge,” Doggett said. “They had to get up early to catch a plane. We had a problem with the car tires. Then we flew out there —  and there’s a three-hour dif­ference — debated all day Sat­urday, and then flew back on Sunday. They got back at about 12 a.m. and hadn’t had any sleep since the pre­vious morning.”

The trio found that Midwest Lincoln Douglas debate is much more policy-based.

“It’s more based upon the tech­ni­cal­ities of policy and the impacts of the policy,” Buzzard said. “The West Coast is more based on the assump­tions you’re making when you run your policy in the round. So you’re assuming some kind of bad mindset, and we should talk about that first.”

Doggett, Buzzard, and Wilson had some idea of the dif­fer­ences they would encounter on the West Coast. They tai­lored their research for the tour­nament so they might be better pre­pared to combat those argu­ments.

“We had some idea that they cared more about the mindsets of your pol­i­cy­making,” Wilson said. “A lot of research went into trying to under­stand what they might be doing in that regard instead of trying to figure out all the dif­ferent policy issues.”

While most Lincoln Douglas teams on the West Coast are con­cen­trated in Cal­i­fornia, more teams are popping up in Oregon, Wash­ington, and sur­rounding states. The teams are switching over from par­lia­mentary debate.

“Par­lia­mentary debate on the West Coast is super fast, and the argu­men­tation is very shallow because there’s not a lot of evi­dence that’s used because it’s not policy,” Buzzard said. “Teams are thinking that the type of debate is not as edu­ca­tional as Lincoln Douglas policy since you get a while to prepare and can actually read evi­dence in a round.”

The first weekend of spring break, a handful of members will travel to John Carroll Uni­versity for a tour­nament. After the break, the team will head to New York City for the Pi Kappa Delta national tour­nament.