UNT Debate team attends global tournament, promoting student growth and cultural exchange

Friday, April 12, 2024

UNT Debate teamDENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas Debate team delivered an impressive performance at this year’s International Forensics Association (IFA) tournament in Dublin, Ireland — marking their first international competition.

“Every competitor was in a do-or-die mindset, performing at their absolute best and at the top of their game,” said Brian Lain, director of UNT Debate and a university distinguished teaching professor in the Department of Communication Studies.

The IFA has facilitated competitive speech and debate tournaments for over 30 years. This year’s tournament drew participants from over 40 different colleges and universities. Attendees participated in 13 different events including team and individual debates, impromptu speaking and dramatic interpretation.

Gianfranco Ladagga, a senior political science major, took eighth place in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) format, which gives a debater 30 minutes to research a randomly assigned topic before sparring with an opponent. This year, over 100 debaters participated in the IPDA category.

“The competition in the tournament was much stronger than what I’m used to,” Ladagga said.

The trip gave students a rare opportunity to see speech and debate in action on an international stage. Ladagga said the experience broadened his perspective on political science and law.

UNT students in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

UNT Debate team 2“It was interesting to see the differences in how speech works in the U.S. versus in Dublin,” Ladagga said. “It was also fascinating to get perspectives on American law from someone who lives in Dublin, and vice-versa.”

Alaia Snell, a senior double-majoring in English literature and economics, claimed fourth place in Extemporaneous Speaking. The Extemporaneous Speaking format allows a speaker 30 minutes of research on their assigned topic, followed by a five-to-seven-minute speech delivered to a panel of judges. It was the tournament’s second-most-popular event this year, with 96 total entries.

“Dublin has a really rich history of debate and speech,” said Snell, who also placed in the top 16 of all competitors in the IPDA category. “Being in an environment and a city where there’s already a lot of public and political discourse was a really great experience.”

In addition to competing in the IFA tournament, the UNT Debate team attended a live public debate hosted at Trinity College. Trinity College houses the world’s oldest recorded collegiate debate society — the College Historical Society, known locally as “The Hist.”

Snell said she gained new insights into her academic research, which centers on colonialism and race. It also reaffirmed her belief that debate is a global activity.

“Anyone can participate in debate regardless of their location,” Snell said. “We were all having really similar conversations on an international scale — it was heartwarming to be part of that.”

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From UNT News – General News