Debate Team Argues Their Point

Members of the public were invited on Thursday, May 26, to watch Roberto Lopez and Monica Ross faceoff against Morgan McLoughlin and Dominic Ameneyro in a debate over whether alcohol should be banned from all professional sporting competitions. All four debaters are members of Santa Monica College's speech and debate team, a team that has not yet been officially recognized by SMC since its creation in 2005.

"We have no budget," said Nate Brown, SMC speech professor and founder of the debate team.  "We could not have existed without the Associated Students.  Other colleges' teams have a budget they can count on.  A lot of college teams start the way we started, and eventually the colleges take over and want to support it."

But as of yet, SMC hasn't held out a helping hand for the fiery members of the speech and debate team.

With the combined help of the Associated Students and the Global Council, the speech and debate team was able to travel to Vermont to compete in the national championship last March.

In order to get to that competition, and in order to go to any of the tournaments they attend throughout the semester, the debate team needed to raise half of their budget on their own.  To meet the difference, the Associated Students agreed to supply the debate team with 50 percent of whatever budget they presented as necessary for their team agenda. Still, the team has dealt with quite a difficult time raising funds.

"It's what eventually burned me out: raising the money," Brown explained.  "I was good at it, but it's draining."

After being the one and only SMC debate coach for six years now, Brown is finally stepping down and handing the reigns over to communications professor, Marcia Regina.

Global Council, another sponsor of the debate team, recently encouraged the team to hold exhibition debates, and to invite the public to watch them take each other on over various issues.

The most recent debate produced a passionate argument over the allowance of alcohol in sports arenas.  In lieu of the recent attack on the Giant's fan Bryan Stow in the parking lot of the Dodgers' stadium, the four aforementioned team members went head to head over how these types of violent incidents could best be prevented.

Lopez and Ross, the Government side, argued that a complete ban of alcohol was the only way to truly solve the problem. McLoughlin and Ameneyro vehemently disagreed.

As each side made their points within their precisely allotted times (typical of any formal debate), one could hear the tapping of pens on desks, signifying the audience's agreement with certain analyses.

Ultimately, the Opposition side (McLoughlin and Ameneyro) emerged victorious over the Government side, with the winning argument being that a 100 percent ban on alcohol was an unnecessary way to solve the problem of violence and inappropriate behavior at sporting events.

Ross, a newbie to the debate team and to debate in general, joined the team as recently as this semester. "It's good experience for public speaking; you learn a lot.  It's an easy way to learn about current events, and to critically think in a way you don't get to do in any other class," said Ross.

Ross had never participated in either speech or debate before, so when she saw a flyer at SMC, she decided to give it a go. "My first debate was a joke, I was crying by the end of the day," she admitted.  But fast-forward to the end of this semester, and Ross stands at the podium and argues her points with evident ease.

The debate team plans on holding more exhibitions in room 117, because as Brown says, "it makes us better to perform for an audience that's not just our team."