Baylor To Host National Debate Tournament March 29-April 2

March 28, 2001

The National Debate Tournament will be held at Baylor University Thursday through Monday, March 29 to April 2. Over the four-day period, 78 two-member teams from such universities as Harvard, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Wake Forest and Georgetown, among others, will debate the topic "RESOLVED: That the United States Federal Government should substantially increase its development assistance, including increasing government to government assistance, within the Greater Horn of Africa." The tournament is sponsored by the American Forensic Association.

"The tournament works in a similar fashion to the NCAA basketball tournament," said Dr. Karla Leeper, associate professor of communications studies and The Glenn R. Capp Professor of Forensics. "Of the 78 competing teams, some received automatic bids to compete in the national tournament, while others qualified at regional tournaments. A few spots were reserved for teams that for one reason or another did not qualify but have historically strong programs."

Texas teams that qualified for the tournament include Baylor, the University of Texas, the University of North Texas and Southwest Texas State University.

On Thursday at 8 p.m., a banquet for the participants will be held in Barfield Drawing Room at the Bill Daniel Student Center. Dr. Robert Baird, chair of the department of philosophy and Master Teacher, will be the featured speaker. Additionally, a trophy will be presented to the national champion of the regular debate season.

The actual debates will begin Friday. The national tournament will feature three days of preliminary competition in which all the teams will debate eight times, four times for the affirmative position and four times taking the negative viewpoint. The strongest teams will move on to single-elimination debates until one team is left.

Friday morning debates will be held in various rooms throughout the campus. Debates after 3 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday will be held in the Cashion Academic Center. Monday's debates will be held at the Waco Convention Center with an award ceremony held after the final debate.

"The debates are all open to the public, but people need to keep in mind that these are very specialized and sophisticated endeavors," Leeper said. "But we will have people experienced with debate, including two former national champions, who can explain what is going on."

The National Debate Tournament began in 1947 at the United States Military Academy, which hosted the competition for the first 20 years. A Baylor team has qualified for the tournament 42 out of 55 years, ranking in the top 10 squads for most national tournament appearances. Baylor's debate team has captured three national titles and is one of the two oldest extracurricular activities at the university.

For more information about the tournament, contact Leeper at (254) 710-6919.

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