UM Debate Escapes Prison With Top Awards
On September 29 – October 2, The UM Debate Team of Natacha Larnaud and Juliana Carvajal Yepes traveled to Salem, Oregon to compete in the 6th Annual Oregon State Penitentiary
Capital Toastmaster’s Debate Tournament, held inside the Oregon State Penitentiary, a maximum security prison. The tournament is organized and run by Jackson Miller, Professor of Debate at Linfield College in Salem. While there are other prison debate programs (one famously won vs. the Harvard debate team last year, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/10/07/why-you-shouldnt-be-surprised-that-convicted-criminals-crushed-the-harvard-debate-team/) the Oregon event is the only competition held involving multiple outside teams and multiple teams of inmates in a tournament setting, without doubt, the only intercollegiate debate tournament held inside of a maximum-security prison. The tournament is a truly unique debate experience that allows debate students to provide a valuable contribution to debate education for inmates while at the same time challenging deeply embedded perceptions of the prison population. 12 university teams are invited to compete with 4 teams of inmates who are part of the Toastmaster’s club and Debate class inside the prison. The format is British Parliamentary. On this day, the motions were, That Syria’s Bashar Al Asaad should be defeated, That inmates should have the right to vote, that Marijuana should be legalized, and that Colin Kaepernick should be celebrated for his protest during the playing of the National Anthem at football games.
The Hurricanes had a terrific tournament, advancing into the final round. While they lost to Gonzaga University in finals, the canes were recognized as the top two individual speakers, tying for the most individual speaker points.