Pitt Debate Roars Out to Start of Season

The William Pitt Debating Union has just finished a whirwind travel schedule that included 3 tournaments in four weekends. Debating the topic "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the war powers authority of the President of the United States in one or more of the following areas: targeted killing, indefinite detention, offensive cyber operations, or introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities" the Pitt squad traveled to the University of Missouri Kansas City to compete. The senior team of Nathaniel Woodford and Ryan Markus scored wins against Kansas State and Augustana College. Meanwhile the team of Michael Keefe ('17) and Rishi Chebrolu ('16) kept their spirits high despite debating a talented Harvard team and running a gauntlet of Kansas State teams. Two weeks later saw season debuts for other WPDU members as most of the squad rolled to the Motor City to debate at Wayne State University. Led by Pitt coach (and Wayne alum) Sydney Pasquinelli and Paul Johnson, with support offered from graduate debate researcher Aaron Swanlek, the Panthers scored the top two seeds in the Varsity division coming out of the prelims. First year Madeline Budny and Rishi Chebrolu came out of the preliminary debates as the top seed at the entire tournament, a very impressive accomplishment at Maddy's first college debate tournament. Meanwhile, Ryan Markus and Nate Woodford continued to perform well, beated a talented UNI team in the prelims on their way to the second seed. Crucial to both team's success was an argument that blended the debater's interest in critiquing the office of the presidency and the coaching staff's rhetorical sensitivities. The argument, titled "The Interpellative Presidency" suggests debate needs less rather than more focus on the office of the president, utilizing both political science research about the overrated phenomenon of the "bully pulpit" and also relied on rhetorical work that focused on the symbolic role of the president in crowding out more active visions of citizenship. While BC and MW notched four wins on this argument in the preliminary rounds, the team of Juliet Taylor ('16) and Raul Larsen ('14) made arguments about the relation between the topic and identity, riding to the semifinals of the JV division. The sterling prelim run came to a halt for the Panthers in the semifinals, as both BC and MW ran into talented team, from the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Michigan respectively. However, the Panthers departed the Motor City with high spirits. Finally just last weekend the WPDU sallied forth down to Lexington, Kentucky to debate at the annual Henry Clay tournament. Despite a difficult preset draw, Michael Keefe and Raul Larsen successfully defeated an Indiana team in front of a less than sympathetic judge by winning that the fictive imagination enabled by comic books provides an important avenue for understanding the topic. Meanwhile Budny and Chebrolu scored wins against the up and coming University of Houston squad and Missouri State, knocking off two more opponents on their argument about presidential focus. Despite some tough losses, spirits were high in Tuesday's squad meeting. The team travels against in early November to the Clarion University tournament. Stay tuned!