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Notre Dame Debate Team hosts national tournament

Adrienne Ruffner | Monday, February 13, 2006

Dozens of students from universities around the country came to Notre Dame this weekend to debate topics ranging from affirmative action to reality television and to sightsee around a campus seeped in tradition.

The Notre Dame Debate Team hosted the Irish Invitational national debate tournament Friday through Sunday. In the tournament, 75 teams of two students apiece competed for top honors in more than 50 classrooms in DeBartolo Hall – a large increase from last year’s tournament, which hosted only 27 teams.

The Notre Dame Debate Team is composed of students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross and competes in several national debate tournaments each year. The team hosted the event but did not compete. Instead, members organized the tournament and helped competitors find their way around campus. The event was free and open to the public.

“It was great to show the other kids the school and give them an opportunity to see our campus,” said senior Tim Fiorta, captain of the Notre Dame Debate Team’s parliamentary team. “Everyone – the coaches and the team members – were really happy with the way the tournament ran.”

While the Irish Invitational began in the mid-1990’s, this was the first year the tournament included policy debate.

“Policy debate requires a lot more research,” Notre Dame Director of Debate Susan Ohmer said. “We put parliamentary debate in classrooms on the first two floors of DeBartolo so people stopping in could see the all the different topics, and policy debate was on the third floor.”

Case Western Reserve University won first place in the Varsity Policy category. In Varsity Policy, competitors debate the same topic over the course of the entire academic year. The topic this year concerns relations between the United States and China.

Ferris State won first place in the Varsity Parliamentary category. Parliamentary debate topics changed each round and included current events such as the war in Iraq, immigration policies, affirmative action and US foreign aid to Africa.

More than 20 schools were invited to the Irish Invitational, including Miami University of Ohio, Marquette University, the University of Illinois and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“People love coming to Notre Dame,” Ohmer said. “They love going to the bookstore to buy mugs and T-shirts … this year we [gave] authentic Notre Dame footballs to the top speakers in each category, and they were so excited. I love it.”