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Cal Poly Debate Team Basks in a Successful Season

The Debate Team has taken many honors this year.
From Back to front: Andre Fontana, Minnal Kunnan, Mike Dewitt,
Emilio Horner, Makenna Miller, Kylee Hawthorne and Bryan Pride.
Standing: Ryan Curtin.

The Cal Poly Debate Team is enjoying the feeling of success after emerging with top wins at major tournaments this year — continuing a strong tradition of excellence.

In April, the team competed in both the America’s Cup Debating Championship and the United States Universities Debating Championship Tournament hosted by Purdue University. Four teams represented Cal Poly. Teammates Bryan Pride and Ryan Curtain advanced to the tournament’s elimination rounds, earning the title of octafinalists.  

In 2013-14, the team placed as finalists at multiple tournaments, including the UC Davis and University of Miami tournaments. The team also won the title of Champion, debate’s highest honor, at the Loyola Marymount, Hawaii Cup, and the University of Hawaii’s Pan-Pacific Universities Debate tournaments.

The Cal Poly Debate Team’s success was spurred by switching to a different debate format that offered more opportunities for the team to showcase its debating prowess. The team moved from the U.S. Policy Debate format to the World University Debate Championship format, which, as its name indicates, is more international in scope.

“We now live in a multicultural, multinational world. The new format is a really exciting change,” said Chris Skiles, interim director of forensics.

Skiles notes that the format more accurately mirrors the way the world now works, with increased travel, growing international relations, and closely connected global economies. But the fundamental spirit of debate remains the same.

“What unifies all of this is the need to communicate ideas and defend them,” Skiles said. “The art of debate dates back to the ancient Greeks, and it’s a great way to teach students how to use the knowledge they are accumulating.”

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