Wednesday, April 16, 2014

'13-'14 Purdue USUDC

Seawolves earn accolades, and 2015 hosting rights, at the 2014 U.S. Universities Debating Championship

April 15, 2014

More than 180 teams gathered from across America to compete in the national debate championship this past weekend at Purdue University. The Seawolf Debaters once again proved themselves as serious contenders in their last competitive tournament of the season. The team brought home numerous trophies, and the privilege of hosting the 2015 championship here in Alaska.

Topics up for debate ranged from the morality of art consumption, Israel-Palestine, and validity of pre-nuptial agreements. After six preliminary rounds, the team of Matthieu Ostrander and Jonathan Taylor advanced to elimination rounds as the 12th seeded team overall.

Having made it successfully through the octofinal round, Ostrander and Taylor were asked to oppose the assassination of political leaders as a legitimate tactic of war. At the end of debate the Seawolves would have to settle for Quarterfinalist awards, placing them in the top 16 of the 181 teams who competed. In addition, Ostrander was recognized as the 10th place overall speaker of the 362 speakers present, and Taylor in his first year of intercollegiate debating also ended up in the top 10% of the field taking home the Top Novice Speaker award.

Beyond the competitive success of current Seawolves, alumni of the program who traveled to the US Universities Debating Championship as independent adjudicators also excelled. Brittany Bennett and Colin Haughey advanced to the semifinal round of the America’s Cup, a tournament that takes place just before USUDC for debate alumni coming to USUDC to serve as judges. Brett Frazer advanced to the final round. All three Seawolf alums, along with the program’s current assistant coach Amie Stanley, were selected to judge elimination rounds of the national championship based on their quality ranking from debaters and co-judges. Director of Debate, Steve Johnson, also received the Top Judge award, an honor determined by being given the highest score from debaters he judged over the weekend and his fellow panelist judges.

The next US Universities Debating Championship will occur in April of 2015, right here in Alaska. The Seawolf Debate Program successfully bid through a competitive process to host the tournament, which will bring upwards of 100 of the best debate teams in America to UAA next spring in one of the largest-scale intercollegiate activities to be hosted at UAA in recent history.

For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at (907) 786-4391 or visit the Seawolf Debate website.

'13-'14 Seattle IV

Seawolf debaters make waves on the West Coast

December 11, 2013

Members of the Seawolf Debate Team traveled to Seattle to compete in the Seattle University Intervarsity debate competition Dec. 7-8. The competition featured 32 teams from the Northwestern U.S. and Canada, with the Seawolf Debate Program standing out as one of the strongest.

After five preliminary rounds of competition, half of the Seawolf debaters found themselves advancing to the next phase of competition. As the top-ranked team in the entire competition, Seawolves Andrew Kerosky and Hannah Foreman earned themselves a spot in the semifinal round, where they faced tough competition and were charged with debating whether or not the state should financially incentivize women to not have abortions.

Although Kerosky and Foreman put up a strong argument, they did not advance and topped off the night with semifinal trophies. A second team from Seawolf Debate, Johanna Richter and Jonathon Taylor, advanced to the final round and, on the same motion, won the title of Novice Champion. Both Richter and Taylor are in their first semester of intercollegiate debate.

Other topics debated throughout the weekend ranged from whether or not online currencies like Bitcoins should be prohibited to whether parents should be held liable for the serious injuries their children receive playing dangerous sports.

The team is now preparing for its final and most challenging competition of the year, the World Universities Debating Championships to be held in Chennai, India at the end of December. Upon their return, the debate program looks forward to hosting the Ninth Annual Cabin Fever Debates, UAA’s intramural tournament for students not actively involved in the competitive debate team. For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at (907) 786-4391 or Amie Stanley at (907) 786-4354. You may also visit the team’s website at

Monday, October 14, 2013

'13-'14 US Universities National Open

Seawolves Shine in the Semifinals of the US Universities National Open

For the fifth year in a row debaters from UAA advanced to the elimination rounds of the US Universities National Open debating tournament hosted by Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA.

Six Seawolves representing UAA traveled to the competition to compete against over 30 teams from across the US including teams from southern California, Hawaii, and Vermont. For half of our team this was only their first or second intercollegiate debate competition, and they demonstrated their exceptional ability in the pattern of success that the Seawolf Debate program has become known for.

The weekend event challenged debaters to engage on topics ranging from recall elections, displaced refugees to home ownership and conditional welfare programs. After eight preliminary rounds of competition one team from UAA earned a spot in the semifinal round. In the semifinal round the team of senior debater Amy Parrent & freshman Johanna Richter was charged with defending the motion that jury trials do more harm than good.  While the Seawolves would have to settle for earning semifinal honors, their efforts were further rewarded when Amy Parrent was announced as the 5th place Top Speaker of the nearly 70 speakers competing. While only 8 teams could advance to the semifinal round of competition, the UAA team of Andrew Kerosky & Bexley Brown was also awarded 9th place in recognition of having tied their teammates (Parrent & Richter) in team points, missing the break to semifinals on the tie-breaker of individual speaker points earned.

Also representing the Seawolves this weekend was the novice team of Judy Jessen & Jonathon Taylor, who missed the break to the semifinal round by only a single team point of the possible 24.

The team next travels to the North American British Parliamentary Debate Championships hosted by Hart House University of Toronto on October 17th. For more information, please contact Steve Johnson (786-4391) or Amie Stanley (786-4354).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

'13-'14 US Air Force Academy Classic

Seawolves open season at the Air Force Academy

The Seawolf Debate program opened its competitive season with a strong showing at the 51st annual United States Air Force Academy Classic in Colorado Springs on the September 28-29 weekend. 

The tournament featured competition from over 30 universities, including some special guests from Europe.  After six rounds of competition on topics as diverse as whether Iran should be included in discussions of how to address the crisis in Syria to whether Egypt would be better off with a secular authoritarian government or a democratically-elected government with theocratic ideals, all three Seawolf teams qualified to advance to the single-elimination phase of the tournament.

Matt Stinson (senior, History) and Sarah Elton (sophomore, International Studies) qualified for the Quarterfinal round before being knocked out.  Matt Fox (senior, Economics) and Brittany Bennett (senior, Natural Sciences and Environment & Society) represented UAA progressed through the Quarterfinal round but were eliminated in the Semifinal round.  Hannah Foreman (junior, Economics) and Matt Ostrander (junior, Economics and Political Science) breezed through the Quarterfinal and Semifinal round to represent Alaska in the Final against teams from Slovenia, Serbia and Vermont.  The final had the Alaska team speaking against the motion “Journalists who cover people in distress have a moral obligation to act as good Samaritans.”  Though the Seawolf team argued that journalists are exempt from the moral codes that typically would govern laypersons helping another in crisis, the team from the University of Belgrade took top honors at the event.

Members of the Seawolf Debate program will host the Alaska Ethics Bowl on campus this weekend in cooperation with the Alaska Ethics Consortium and the Department of Philosophy.  The team next competes at the Claremont Colleges in the National Debate Open tournament on October 11-13.  Please contact Steve Johnson at 786-4391 for more information.

Monday, August 19, 2013

'12-'13 La Verne USUDC

Seawolves earn honors at the 2013 U.S. Universities Debating Championship


April 17, 2013

More than 150 teams from more than 40 colleges and universities around the U.S., as well as a handful of international teams, met at La Verne University in Pomona, Calif. last weekend for the U.S. Universities Debating Championships. The Seawolf Debaters once again proved themselves as serious contenders in their last competitive tournament of the season.

The debates focused on a variety of issues from whether cosmetic procedures to alter racial appearance should be banned to whether vigilante justice should be acceptable in patriarchal structures that oppress women. In the end, two UAA teams qualified for the elimination rounds. After six preliminary rounds, Amy Parrent and Matt Fox earned the 21st seed overall, while Brittany Bennett and Wiley Cason advanced as the 32nd seed.

Debating in the octofinal round on the issue of subsidizing foreign companies who are environmentally friendly, both Alaskan teams were taken out facing tough competition from Cornell, Stanford, and Yale teams among others. In addition to the hard-earned accolades our senior teams garnered, UAA had a particularly young squad this year that excelled in their first-ever U.S. Universities Debating Championship. At the end of five preliminary rounds, three of our novice teams were still in contention to make it to the regular elimination rounds, and at the end of competition, three of our novice speakers placed in the top-third of the individual speaker field. Their remarkable performance speaks to the depth of our program and holds high promise for the 2013-2014 season.

The Seawolves are back at home working on a variety of events to promote debate in our community, including hosting the high school Northern Lights Tournament April 19-20 and Middle School Public Debating Championships April 27. The team is also preparing for the UAA vs. Harvard Debate on April 25. This exhibition debate over whether or not the time has come to repeal the Second Amendment will be at the Beartooth Theatrepub. Tickets are on sale now.

For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at (907) 786-4391 or visit the Seawolf Debate website.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'12-'13 Trinity IV

UAA debaters advance to the Quarterfinals of the Trinity Intervarsity

Amy Parrent and Matthew Fox claimed top honors over the weekend at the Trinity Intervarsity, a major international debating competition held in Dublin, Ireland. The Trinity IV draws top teams from the UK, US and Western Europe for three days of intense competition in the British Parliamentary debating format.

After debating five preliminary rounds on topics ranging from whether victims of domestic violence should be held responsible for crimes they commit as a result of their abuse to whether Romeo and Juliet should be taught in schools, Parrent and Fox advanced to the single-elimination phase of the tournament ranked 14th of the 84 teams entered in the competition. Notably, the team of Matthieu Ostrander and Matthew Stinson were only a single preliminary point away from advancing to the quarterfinal in their first European tournament.

In the quarterfinal round, the Seawolves faced tough teams from Bates, St. Andrews, and Leeds, where they were assigned to propose the motion “Allowing women in the front lines is a victory the feminist movement.” Arguing that having the opportunity to participate in combat maximized choice for women, the judges ultimately found the arguments from Bates and St. Andrews in the top half of debate more compelling and the Seawolves did not advance.

The Seawolves are home for February and March as they host the Cabin Fever Debates, UAA’s Intramural Tournament for students not actively involved on the competitive team. Debates will be held Tuesday evenings from January 29 – March 5th at 7 PM in SSB 118 and are open to the public. The final round will be held Thursday, March 7th. The Seawolf Debate team will return to competition in early April for the US Universities Debating Championship.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

'12-'13 Davis Debates

On December 1-2, 12 members of the Seawolf Debate Team traveled to the University of California Davis to compete in the Davis Debates. This year's event boasted 44 of the top teams in the up and down the West Coast.

Over the course of six preliminary rounds and two elimination rounds, the debaters engaged one another on a diverse set of topics ranging from whether the west should reject Egypt’s new constitution to whether unilateral climate engineering should be allowed to whether federal judges should be subject to Senate confirmation.

At the conclusion of six preliminary rounds, the top eight two-person teams advanced to the semifinal round. Among those eight teams were three teams representing UAA. The teams of Amy Parrent & Matthew Fox, Brittany Bennett & Kelsey Waldorf and Matthew Stinson & Matthieu Ostrander advanced to the semifinal round to debate whether or not the west should reject Egypt’s new constitution. A fourth UAA team, Jonathan Stinson & Bexley Brown, missed the break to elimination rounds by only a single preliminary point of the possible 18 tournament points.

After a superb showing in the semifinal, Parrent & Fox gained themselves a spot in the final round against two teams from the University of La Verne and one from Seattle University. At the end of the competition a team from the University of La Verne was named champion and our Seawolves took home 2nd Place.

Nevertheless, four Seawolves distinguished themselves in the top 10 of more than 80 speakers in the tournament once again demonstrating the depth of talent on our team: Parent (2nd speaker), Fox (3rd speaker), Waldorf (5th speaker), and Bennett (9th speaker).

The team is now preparing for its final and most challenging competition of the fall semester, the World Universities Debating Championships to be held in Berlin at the end of December. Upon its return, we are looking forward to hosting the 7th Annual Cabin Fever Debates, UAA’s intramural tournament for students not actively involved in the competitive debate team.  For more information, please contact Steve Johnson (786-4391) or Amie Stanley (786-4354). You may also visit the team's website at