Friday, October 24, 2014

'14-'15 Hart House IV

Seawolves compete at Hart House in Toronto 

Members of the Seawolf Debate Program traveled to the University of Toronto this past weekend (Oct 17-19) to compete in the Hart House Intervarsity Debating Tournament, the largest and most competitive regular-season debate tournament in Canada.  This year’s Hart House was attended by 100 teams representing universities across the US and Canada.

Three Seawolf Debate teams were entered into the competition where they debated motions considering whether all salaries should be made public, whether war journalists should be compelled to reveal their sources in trials involving suspected war criminals, and whether politicians should be assumed to be under oath when making any public statements thus being held criminally liable for perjury if they lie.

While all three teams represented UAA admirably the team of AJ Carver and Sarah Elton just missed the break to quarterfinals, finishing with the 10 points needed to break (out of 15 possible) but falling just short on the tie-breaker of team speaker points. The team of Johanna Richter (sophomore) and Sam Erickson (freshman) were right behind them finishing with 9 points and both teams finished the preliminary rounds of competition among the top-30% of all entered teams. This was the first ever collegiate tournament for Sam Erickson in what can only be considered a wonderful first effort at representing the Green and Gold, and making the team’s near miss to elimination rounds at such a highly competitive tournament all the more impressive.

The Seawolf Debaters will remain out east this weekend as they prepare for the North American Universities Debating Championship, hosted by Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at 786-4391.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

'14-'15 Yale IV

Seawolves shine at Yale

Members of the Seawolf Debate Program traveled to New Haven, CT this past weekend (Oct 3-5) to compete in the Yale Intervarsity Debating Tournament, the largest and most competitive regular-season debate tournament on the US circuit.  Attended by 148 teams representing universities across the US, Canada and England, the Yale IV is an early-season test that typically predicts the success of a squad for the upcoming World and US Universities Debating Championships.

The SDP traveled four students to the competition where they took on teams over motions considering whether forced relocation is a desirable solution to ethnic conflict and whether the charter school movement has had a positive effect on public education.  Both Seawolf teams assembled an impressive record in preliminary rounds: Matt Ostrander and Jonathon Taylor completed the 6 preliminary rounds with a record of 15 points (out of a possible 18) to enter the elimination rounds seeded fourth (behind only Cambridge, the University of Toronto and Harvard) while AJ Carver and Sarah Elton assembled a 13 point record to advance as the 16th seed.

Both teams were on the Proposition side in the quarterfinal round, assigned to defend a motion about whether the federal government should provide financial support to religious organizations that undertake social work in impoverished areas.  Despite making their best cases, both Seawolf teams had to content themselves with quarterfinal finishes, a showing that still had them in the top 10% of teams attending.

This is the first time that the Seawolves have advanced two teams to the elimination rounds of the Yale IV, and the first time they’ve done so at all since 2010.  The current generation of Seawolf Debaters obviously intends to make their own contribution to the SDP’s tradition of excellence.

The SDP is in Anchorage this weekend to host a tournament at Goldenview Middle School as part of their Middle School Public Debate initiative.  The team will return to competition in two weeks when they embark on a road trip to participate in both the Hart House IV at the University of Toronto and the North American Debating Championships to be hosted by Hobart and William Smith College of Geneva, NY.  For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at 786-4391.

'14-'15 Air Force Invitational

New school year- same high level of competitive success for Seawolf Debate.

This past weekend, UAA’s Seawolf Debate program traveled three teams to Colorado Springs to attend the annual tournament hosted by the United States Air Force Academy. At its first competition of the 2014-2015 school year, the Seawolf debaters showed few signs of early season rust as all three teams advanced to the elimination rounds, including two teams making it all the way to the final round.

The tournament began with 56 teams in attendance representing 17 institutions from across the United States, including teams from Louisiana, South Carolina, and Vermont. Topics ranged from contemporary global issues such as whether the World Health Organization ought to have the power to close borders to prevent the spread of highly infectious diseases to more futuristic considerations of the effect of increased automation in the workforce.

Following six preliminary rounds of competition all three UAA teams advanced to quarterfinals and were all seeded among the top-teams (2nd, 5th, and 7th respectively) at the competition. While the team of Bexley Brown and Johanna Richter dropped in a close quarterfinal round, the teams of Matthieu Ostrander and Jonathon Taylor, and Sarah Elton and AJ Carver successfully argued their way through quarterfinals and semifinals on their way to finals.

The final round turned into a showdown between UAA and perennial powerhouse Loyola Marymount University of Los Angeles as each school advanced two teams. Following an incredibly close round on a topic evaluating the likely effectiveness of sanctions targeting Russia, UAA’s Elton and Carver captured second place, with Ostrander and Taylor finishing third. LMU’s top-team won the tournament.

While these Seawolf debaters just missed out on the championship, they demonstrated the incredible depth of talent within the program. Of the top twelve individual speakers (out of the 112 total speakers entered In the competition), six were from UAA.

While competitive success was achieved early this year, there is no time to relax as UAA prepares to travel teams to this weekend’s incredibly competitive Yale University tournament. For more information please contact Steve Johnson (786-4391) or John Schultz (786-4354).

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, November 18, 2013

'13-'14 Cambridge IV

UAA debaters step up at the Cambridge Intervarsity 

On November 16-17th, 2013, the contingent of UAA debaters made another appearance in

Europe at the Cambridge Intervarsity debate competition. The team of Matthew Fox & Matthieu

Ostrander along with Matthew Stinson & Sarah Elton demonstrated their strength as a team

against 260 of the world’s top debaters. Topics for debate ranged from US involvement in the

targeted killing of the Tehrik-i-Talibani of Pakistan to whether religious charities should be

banned from proselytizing. Both teams were within striking distance of breaking to elimination

rounds. After five preliminary rounds of competition, the team of Fox & Ostrander missed the

elimination break by a single point while Stinson & Elton missed it by two points of the 15

possible. Next the team splits as they travel debaters December 6th-8th to Boston and the Seattle

University Worlds Debate tournament. For more information, please contact Steve Johnson (786-4391)

or Amie Stanley (786-4354).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

'13-'14 Oxford IV

UAA debaters hold their own in Europe

On November 8-9th , 2013, four Seawolf debaters found themselves across the pond in Oxford,

England for the Oxford Intervarsity debating tournament. The team of Matthew Fox & Matthieu

Ostrander along with Matthew Stinson & Sarah Elton made an impressive showing against

230 of the world’s top debaters from Europe and North America in what is considered to be

one of the most competitive debating tournaments in the world. Topics for debate ranged from

whether major polluting nations should be forced to open their borders to environmental refugees

to whether or not war memorials ought to display all who died in conflict regardless of which

side they fought for. While after five rounds of competition neither UAA team advanced to

elimination rounds, the team of Fox & Ostrander missed the break by a single point of the 15

possible, beating teams from Cambridge, Stanford and Yale in preliminary rounds. The Alaska

contingent next travels to the Cambridge Intervarsity competition to see how they stack up

against the best of Europe. For more information, please contact Steve Johnson (786-4391) or

Amie Stanley (786-4354).