BC debate students compete at WWU


The Bellevue College Speech and Debate team is scheduled to compete at a debate tournament at Western Washington University later this week. The debate team at BC has been around for over seven years and is coached by Jim Hanson. As a volunteer with 4 years of high school and 4 years of college debate experience, Hanson coached the team to a victory at the Mount Hood tournament on Jan. 23,  which was won by members Emily Merrill and Joshua Shepherd.

The upcoming Speech and Debate tournament that BC will participate in is to be held at Western Washington University, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. There are five students who will be representing BC at this tournament: Anwar Leonard, Teague Crenshaw, Emily Merrill, Joshua Shepherd and Chu Yang. At the competition, BC students will debate on national topics such as Obama’s free community college proposal, earned income tax credit increase, Iran sanctions and more. BC students will compete in pairs for an hour-long debate. One of the recent winners is Joshua Shepherd.

BC students Shepherd and Merrill had a successful experience at the Mount Hood tournament. Shepherd and Merrill competed in the novice finals and became the novice champions at the tournament.

Shepherd said that he “absolutely” enjoys being on the team, and has been for the past year. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Shepherd. “You get to travel. On occasion, you get to skip class.” He shared an interest in arguments as one of his motivations to join the BC debate team. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Shepherd. “Jim’s a great leader.”

Anwar Leonard is a member of the team and in his first quarter at Bellevue College. Although new to the team at BC, Leonard shared that he “likes to argue” and has two years of prior debate experience. Reasons for his involvement include raising awareness of social issues that affect the future of the country, because “these are issues that need to be talked about.” Leonard considers the debate program an “excellent venue” for discussion, and an “excellent way to sharpen skills.”

Speech and debate helps develop effective speaking skills, teamwork, organizational skills, initiative and accountability. For those unsure of their skill level affecting their ability to join, Hanson says that there is a “supportive atmosphere.”

Hanson suggested that those interested in courses at BC such as public speaking, politics and philosophy should consider participating on the debate team. Still, learning debate teaches skills that Hanson considers to be widely applicable. The debate tournaments are open to an audience, even people not part of the team. BC students who attend the upcoming Western Washington University tournament will be able to not only get a firsthand experience of a competitive debate, but will be showing support for their home team. The BC debate team has already won several awards during past competitions, including at the recent tournament at Mount Hood.

For interested students, the team is open to anyone who would like to join. Hanson hopes to recruit and coach more students to the club, saying, “We will help make them better.”

BC’s Speech and Debate club will be attending three more competitions this quarter. On Feb. 13 to Feb. 15, BC debaters will compete at Whitman College. From Feb. 26 to March 1, BC will compete at Oregon. The final competition will be a national championship at Boise State from March 26 to March 29.