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).

Monday, November 4, 2013

'13-'14 Huber Debates

Members of the Seawolf Debate Program just returned from the University of Vermont’s Huber Debates competition, hosted in Burlington, Vt., Nov. 2 and 3. The competition featured 100 teams competing from schools across the U.S. and Canada. Six students represented UAA in the competition.

The debaters tackled topics ranging from whether U.S. aid to South American countries should be conditional upon coca eradication efforts to whether states without written constitutions are preferable to those with. After six preliminary rounds, two of the three Seawolf teams qualified for the quarterfinal round and one of those teams, Hannah Foreman and Andrew Kerosky, was seeded third out of all teams based on their preliminary record.

Both UAA teams in the quarterfinals (Foreman and Kerosky, Brittany Bennett and Jonathon Taylor) were assigned to the affirmative side of the motion, “Palestinian political organizations should advocate for full Israeli citizenship rather than a separate state.” Though the Seawolves made their best case for the change in policy, the judges ultimately rejected the proposals in both rounds. Despite not advancing past quarterfinals, the Seawolves’ talents were recognized when Kerosky took sixth individual speaker out of the more than 200 students competing at the event and Taylor received the third best novice speaker honor.

The Seawolves next send a contingent to the Oxford and Cambridge IVs. These events, some of the oldest and most prestigious debating tournaments in existence, represent the toughest competition the Seawolves will face before heading to the World Universities Debating Championships in December.

For more information, please contact Steve Johnson at (907) 786-4391.

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.