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Debate team competes to tourney semi-finals

Amanda Gray | Friday, November 7, 2008

Notre Dame’s debate team made it to the semi-finals at a tournament recently, the furthest a varsity partner team has gone for two decades, Notre Dame senior Natassia Kwan said.

The team recently competed in the Motor City Classic Debate Tournament at Wayne State University, located in Detroit.

“The Motor City Classic Debate Tournament … was very important because it was the Notre Dame Policy Debate Team’s first entrance into the debate community for this 2008-2009 academic year,” Kwan said.

Team members include Kwan, junior Melissa Curvino, junior Michael Lucien, and freshman Sean O’Brien.

The competition was from Oct. 24 until Oct. 27.

The topic of debate this year is “reducing agricultural subsidies,” Curvino said.

The team paired off, with Kwan and Curvino as one duo and Lucien and O’Brien the other.

“At this last tournament our varsity team of Lucien-O’Brien cleared into semi-finals, which is the farthest a varsity Notre Dame partner team has gone for about 2 decades,” Kwan said.

They were beaten by Michigan State University, she said.

Curvino, the president of the Notre Dame Policy Debate Team, said she and Kwan had a record of 2-4.

Curvino was also awarded a 5th place speaker award, out of the 16 junior varsity debaters.

Kwan and Curvino said preparation comes in the form of reading articles and books on the subject.

“To prepare for debates we have to write ‘files’ which are basically pieces of evidence compiled from various sources that we arrange into specific arguments to be used in a round,” Curvino said.

They both like the challenge of the team, though.

“My favorite part of debate is the actual debating,” Curvino said. “I like making structured arguments about different topics and having the evidence to support my claims right at my fingertips.”

Kwan said she enjoys keeping up with current events.

“Debate also keeps you updated on current events and issues and teaches how to articulate arguments and responses to them,” Kwan said.

“We are willing to teach anyone who wants to debate at any time,” she said. “We have novice meetings every Wednesday night at 5 p.m. in the Blue Room on the 3rd floor of LaFortune where the coaches teach the fundamentals to people who are new to the activity.”

The Notre Dame debate team is not a new addition to the campus.

Kwan said the debate team has been around since the 1880s, undergoing a reawakening in the past few years.

“The team was on a 30-year hiatus until three years ago when one of our coaches, Anthony Pesce, undertook a huge effort to revive the program,” Curvino said. “Thanks to Anthony and the participation of many talented debaters, Notre Dame is making a come-back and is making great strides to improve the respectability of the program.”