Debate Club students gear up for global competition

The Debate Club at Windward Community College has been preparing for the University of Hawai‘i Debate Club Tournament in February against college teams from the U.S. mainland such as Loyola Marymount as well as teams from Korea, China and the U.S. Armed Forces.

According to Audrey Badua, who serves as the club’s coach and is also a speech instructor and the Speech Lab coordinator at WCC, debate offers students a way to improve their speech and argumentative skills.

“It’s learning how to think on the spot–learning how to think and organize your information on the spot. That’s basically what it is,” she said.

The club meets Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Speech Lab in the WCC library to research and practice. During tournaments, students don’t know the resolutions until 15 minutes prior to the beginning of each round. So to prepare, Badua said they keep up with current events and practice past topics such as “This house would fear North Korea” and “Opposing human combat sport.”

According to Badua, WCC has the only speech lab in the University of Hawai‘i community college system. Students can take advantage of the lab’s equipment to hone their skills for island-wide competition against other campus teams. WCC competes twice each semester.

“Five years ago, one of the professors at UH Mānoa challenged me to put a debate club together,” Badua said. “If someone challenges me, I’m going to accept it, and then if it works, I’m going to build on that.”

To current and incoming students, she said: “If you don’t know if you’re going to be interested in anything speech-related, particularly debate, I say try it and find out for yourself versus assuming first.”

First year student Irma Roughan is taking SP 253: Argumentation and Debate with speech lecturer Lucille-Michi Gilbert and decided to join the club.

“My teacher saw potential in me, so she told me I should join,” Roughan  said. She added that club members reap additional benefits that apply to both school and their daily lives.

“Instead of written tests, we actually have to debate,” she said. “I like that I’m able to get my skills together more outside of class so I can go and not look like a fool.”

Roughan said that she has already developed “a different set of skills to look at each side of an argument and formulate an opinion even if it does not coincide with my own.”

She added that joining the club is easy:  “Walk in, sign in and say, ‘I’m here to debate.’”


by Trace Rooney and Tricha Thai, Special to Ka ‘Ohana