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Cal Poly Hosts First Spanish-language Civic Debate on a U.S. Campus

The first Spanish-language civic debate on a U.S. university campus was hosted by the Cal Poly Spanish-language Civic Debate Team March 9-11 in the Advanced Technology Lab.

Titled “Los Legados de Valladolid,” which translates to “Legacies of Valladolid,” the topic argued in competition was whether the rise of nativism, an extreme form of patriotism, is a threat to universal human rights.

The inspiration for this debate was the “Junta de Valladolid,” which was the first moral debate held by a colonizing force regarding the legitimacy of colonization. The impact of colonization remains widespread to this day and still provides a forum to examine current political trends, as well as national and international policies and pervasive ideologies affecting modern global climate.

Cal Poly’s Spanish-language debate team extended an invitation to participate and address these issues in a public debate forum format to other universities. Hancock College in Santa Maria took them up on the invitation.

“I really think that civic debate marks a historic moment and responds to the changing linguistic landscape of California, as well as our Cal Poly mandate of Learn by Doing,” said Marion Hart, Cal Poly Spanish-language team coach and a lecturer in the World Languages and Cultures (WLC) Department. “It is the beginning of (fingers crossed) a long tradition.”

The event was successful in drawing an academic competition in Spanish-language debate to Cal Poly and a was learning experience for the team.

“It’s wonderful to be in an environment where everyone is so open-minded and curious about the world, willing to learn, and humble enough to accept that they don’t know everything.” said communications junior Natasha Nguyen. “We definitely hope to have more universities and colleges join us in the near future.”

A video made by Nguyen features highlights from the competition.

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