Day 1 in Lincoln, Nebraska

So today the St. Olaf Debate Team broke out of their comfort zone and did Speech. That’s right, Speech. The Sleet and Snow Swing (or the Sleet and Sun Swing, they keep changing the name on us) is actually composed of two separate tournaments, both held at Concordia University – Nebraska. However, Concordia only runs the first tournament, and Bethel University (from Minnesota) runs the second. We’re not really sure about the story behind that. Anyways, day one does not feature Parliamentary Debate, so Kevin and I did Persuasive. Rikaela and Raffi declined to do Speech, but will be debating tomorrow.

First off, Kevin and I were definitely kind of winging it. I had my speech more or less memorized, but I definitely forgot random paragraphs during rounds. Kevin went for more of an Extemp approach and just had sources, some talking points outlined, and a couple of pieces of rhetoric and maybe an intro, but beyond that delivery varied quite a bit each time. Kevin did a cool piece on national standards in education and how certain states lie to themselves by just setting proficiency standards lower and lower. I had a pretty vanilla piece on gun control.

Neither of us ending up making finals, which didn’t surprise us, given the previous paragraph. I went to go to watch finals though, and it’s amazing how formulaic a successful Persuasive is. In reality, Persuasive is a misnomer. It should be “Scary Things You’ve Never Heard of That You Can Do Something About”. None of the other topics chosen were even close to being controversial or well heard of, meaning the speakers didn’t have to fight to “persuade” anyone. They were excellent speakers and gave compelling presentations, but it was a little unsettling to see how much “speech culture” dictated content.

We’re ready to brush all of that off though and go full-bore during Parli tomorrow. We found out that the tournament is offering fair trade art in lieu of trophies; there’s some really cool looking rock things, and we want them. Check back in tomorrow evening (or maybe Monday morning) for an update!

– Alex

P.S. Kevin got a critique stating: “Cool take on the topic, but I struggle to buy the benefits to nationalizing testing because of the implicit racism in standardized testing in general. If testing is set up by straight white men, it will lead to more discrimination.” Gosh Kevin, how did you not solve for discriminating against non-white people and homosexuals while talking about education standards.


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