Tournament to Debut New Debate Format


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Students interested in debate can attend an informational session on March 20 where they will test their skills in practice rounds.

Debates may come across as loud arguments or aggressive exchanges on television and in movies, but San Jacinto College speech faculty say proper debate skills are as vital as degrees for graduates entering today’s workforce.

Dr. Nakia Welch, speech professor on the Central Campus, said experience in debate helps students develop public speaking skills, which are an attractive quality for employers. Likewise, fellow Central Campus speech professor Regina Julian said public speaking skills help create a more marketable workforce candidate.

“If you have all this knowledge and you don’t know how to express it, what’s it for?” Julian asked.

Although the College’s debate activities are housed exclusively on the North Campus, recent grant funding made it possible for Welch to host a debate tournament April 17-18 on the Central Campus. There he will introduce a unique format he created and uses in his classes.

Moreover, Welch is offering a joint informational and training session March 20 where interested students can learn the fundamentals of debate.

Welch said the tournament is low stakes and although top contestants will receive awards, all levels of debate experience are welcome. Students can test their skills in practice rounds during the informational session, and separate divisions for beginners and seasoned students ensure debaters will compete with others of their expertise level.

Stephen F. Austin, Lee College, East Texas Baptist University, and Louisiana College are a few of the colleges and universities committed to participate in the tournament.

Welch said the debate topics vary but center on what he calls “life debates,” as opposed to the fiery debates students may see on television. 

“You know, life debates,” he said, “‘Do we want to go to Pizza Hut for dinner or do we want to get Papa Johns?’ kind of a deal.”

The March 20 session is a chance for students to learn more about next month’s tournament, but Welch pointed to it as an opportunity for attendees to strengthen their debate skills. He said nationwide surveys show employers consistently look for communication skills in job candidates.

“Debate really helps you do that,” Welch added. “It helps you organize, formulate your thoughts, and present them in a very coherent manner.”

The informational training session will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on March 20 in Room 116 of the East Classroom building (C4) on the Central Campus. Further information is available at (281) 998-6150 x1825 or email [email protected].

***Update: San Jacinto College has suspended all on-campus events and activities until further notice.***