University of Lynchburg students will face two expert British debaters in a parliamentary debate on October 19 at 7 p.m. in Hopwood Auditorium.
The British debaters are touring the United States for a program sponsored by the National Communication Association. This is the second year in a row that the LC Debate and Forensics Club applied and was approved for the program.
The event will challenge the participants to think on their feet and give the audience a lively performance they can interact with, said Dr. Paula Youra, a Lynchburg communication studies professor and advisor to the Debate Club.
Last year’s debate addressed the statement, “Tanning beds should be banned,” but this year’s topic has not been determined. “Since this is parliamentary debate, none of the debaters will know the topic until I give it to them,” Dr. Youra said. She will reveal the subject only about 30 minutes before the debate begins. One team of two students will be assigned to argue for the statement and the other team will oppose it.
During the debate, the audience can participate in several ways: hissing to show displeasure with a speaker’s point or tapping their desks to signal approval, for example. Meanwhile, the debate participants can interrupt each other to point out infractions of debate rules or to ask questions to create a lively back-and-forth discussion.
At the end listeners will select the winner of the debate by voting with their feet. “You will get up and move to the side of the room for the team that you think won the debate,” Dr. Youra said. “The audience ultimately decides who wins. That’s what makes it fun for students to watch. It’s always fun to see where people go.”
The British debaters include Chessy Whalen, who recently completed her BA in history at Balliol College Oxford and who represented Oxford at various national and international tournaments, and Matthew Wilmore, who recently completed a master of laws degree in human rights at the University of Edinburgh.