Colleges and universities from up and down the eastern seaboard sent debaters to compete in TCNJ Debate’s first tournament here at the College.
As hosts, the club took a step toward prominence on the national collegiate debate circuit, moving up another level in what has been a rapid rise since the club began from scratch in 2007.
The importance of this milestone was not lost on the leaders of the organization.
“This has huge impacts for us within the national debate circuit, because we will be seen and acknowledged with more respect,” said Morgan McElroy, a junior nursing major serving as TCNJ Debate’s executive advisor. “We wanted to better establish TCNJ Debate within APDA (the national debate association which they compete in), and I feel like we really have, and done so very positively.”
As a team in its fifth year, TCNJ Debate must compete with schools whose teams have been around for decades. Furthermore, they face budget constraints while many of their competitors can out fund them many times over.
Nevertheless, TCNJ Debate has become very competitive on the national scene, and hosting this tournament, however, was a step towards establishing themselves as a power in the debate world.
As important as this tournament was to the progress of TCNJ Debate, it was imperative that things went well. According to members of the club who organized the tournament, and many participants, things were better than anyone expected.
“Everyone was extremely impressed with how well-run everything was, the fact that we stuck to time,” McElroy said. “Many teams approached me with these compliments.”
Columbia ended up taking the tournament as they defeated William and Mary in the final round. The College’s team, which did not compete since it was hosting, may have gained the most though.
Beyond the impact that the tournament had on TCNJ Debate’s national standing, it proved tremendously beneficial to the club itself. Through a grueling process of putting the tournament together, and ensuring that it would not fall apart, the club enjoyed an opportunity to work with each other that they could only get through this type of experience.
“The team is much closer after working together so much, and I think everyone has a sense of feeling truly involved, as well as accomplished,” McElroy said.
As the club continues to establish itself, the tournament has gained it recognition from others at the College, such as School of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean, Ben Rifkin.
“Our debate team is only a few years old, but has grown beautifully,” Rifkin said previously. “This tournament is evidence of our team’s maturation as a true competitor in the mid-Atlantic and northeast region.”