UNG Debate Team finishes second in national tournament
Sponsored by Pi Kappa Delta, the tournament pitted 60 colleges and universities against each other for the debate competition. Overall, some 80 institutions participated in in the events at the tournament. Four UNG teams made it to the "Sweet 16" in their various divisions, and senior Pablo Picazo-Garcia made it to the "Elite Eight" in the Novice International Public Debate Association, a one-on-one debate competition.
"This second-place performance eclipses UNG's previous best of the 13th Place Overall School Award at the 2013 Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament," said Dr. Tom Preston, professor of communication and advisor for the debate clubs at UNG's Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses, which comprise the unified UNG Debate Team. "Perennial Pi Kappa Delta powerhouse Southwest Baptist University claimed the national title. Prominent schools in the top 10 behind UNG included Wiley College in fourth place, Boise State University in fifth place, and the University of Southern Mississippi in ninth place."
UNG students fared well in groups and as individuals in several types of debate:
- Pablo Picazo-Garcia, a senior from Gainesville, Ga. majoring in psychology and criminal justice, made it to the "Elite Eight" in Novice International Public Debate Association (IPDA)
- Matt McElveen, a junior from Flowery Branch, Ga. majoring in communication, and Justin Franklin, a sophomore from Gainesville, Ga. majoring in communication, made it to the "Sweet 16" in Novice Parliamentary Debate
- Corey Coffey, a sophomore from Winder, Ga. majoring in business administration, and Joshua Keith, a sophomore from Gainesville, Ga. majoring in business administration, made it to the "Sweet 16" in JV Parliamentary Debate
- Anthony Harden, a senior from Gainesville, Ga. majoring in accounting and law, and Robert Johnson, a sophomore from Jefferson, Ga. majoring in business administration, also made it to the "Sweet 16" in JV Parliamentary Debate
- Fernando Gonzalez, a sophomore from Flowery Branch, Ga. majoring in English, and Maria Palacios, a junior from Gainesville, Ga. majoring in finance, made it to the "Sweet 16" in Varsity Parliamentary Debate
"This is my first semester doing organized debate, and it was very exciting to see everything unfold," Picazo-Garcia said. "I learned IPDA style about a month before we left, and I lost to the competitor who went on to win the whole competition, so I feel good about that. This experience has really helped me; I am double-majoring in psychology and criminal justice, and that kind of workplace can be similar to what I've been learning here. You have to learn how to rely on your debate partner, and back each other up regardless of if your views might differ from the side you've been chosen to argue. It forces you outside of your comfort zone, which really translates into the real world, where you won't always get to do the things you want the way you want to."
Additionally, two UNG teams finished with 4-2 won-loss records in preliminary rounds, but did not advance, including: Ryan "Little Eagle" Molina, of Cumming, Ga., a sophomore majoring in music, and Chase Yarbrough, of Clermont, Ga., a sophomore majoring in media studies, who competed in Novice IPDA Debate; and Ashlee Rose, of Gainesville, Ga., a freshman majoring in business administration, and Kiran Singh, of Cumming, Ga., a senior majoring in human services, who competed in Varsity Public Forum Debate.
"We are exposed to different teams and we learn different forms of argumentation during a national event such as this," said Gonzalez, who is also president of the UNG Debate Team. "That kind of experience is great for the future; I plan to go into military law, and it's important to learn different perspectives and gain exposure to how other communities think. Maria and I were extremely excited to make it to the Sweet 16 — it was definitely a big step for us in our achievements as debaters."