IUP Debate Teams Take Second and Third Place at Frederick Douglass Debate Society Tournament

Posted on 5/2/2016 3:42:43 PM

Teams from Indiana University of Pennsylvania took second and third places at the second annual Frederick Douglass Debate Society Tournament at Millersville University on April 21, 2016.

IUP Debate Teams Place at Frederick Douglass Debate Society TournamentThe teams included Sebastian Befonti, a psychology major; Caleb King, a mathematics major; Derrick Maultsby, a criminology/pre-law major; Tana-shay Newton, an English major;  Ryan K. Stewart, an accounting major; and Arlasia Williams, a fashion merchandising major. 

Debating in teams of two, two of the IUP teams made it to semifinals, and one team, Belfonti and King, made it to the final round to come in second.

The Douglass Debate Team is sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Institute for Intercultural Research at IUP, directed by Veronica Watson. Team members train weekly throughout the fall and spring semesters to prepare for the tournament, which featured 14 teams from six universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

The IUP team’s faculty coaches are Mary MacLeod (Philosophy), Jean Nienkamp (English), and Watson (English). This is the first year that the IUP teams competed.

Debating at the Frederick Douglass Debate Society TournamentDebaters sparred over this tournament resolution: “The civic unrest that followed recent instances of police brutality should be considered protest rather than rioting.” 

“When the debate season first began, I thought winning meant that I had succeeded in my debate rounds,” Williams said. “But then I kept losing. I failed to put myself into the shoes of those who had lost loved ones due to police brutality. When I finally took on that affliction, that was when I soared. While competing, I charged myself with the duty to display my heart and speak up for those that had lost their lives. My main objective was to produce change in the minds of my audience. And, to me, that’s winning.” 

Finalist Belfonti had a different approach.

“I think the most important thing in debate is keeping your cool,” he said. “You have to be confident in every word you say.”

“The experience the Frederick Douglass Debate Society Tournament provided was incredible,” said semifinalist Maultsby. “I look forward to next year’s tournament with hopes of another great finish for IUP, and I thank all those involved with the Frederick Douglass Initiative, not only here at IUP, but all across the state.”