Schreiber Debate Club sends students to yearly LIFA Debates

Sydney Kass, Features Editor

On Jan. 19, Schreiber will host Great Neck South, Chaminade, Roslyn, Jericho, and Syosset schools at January’s Long Island Forensics Association (LIFA) debate tournament.  

Competitors will compete in either Lincoln Douglas (LD) or Public Forum (PF) debate as as a novice, junior varsity, or varsity member of Schreiber’s debate team.  

Lincoln Douglas is named after the famous series of debates between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in the 1858 Illinois race for the United States Senate seat.  This particular type of debate focuses on an individual’s particular skills, and is highly value-based. The one-on-one nature of LD forces students to rely on themselves alone for “the win.”  

Differing from LD, public forum debate focuses less on students’ values, and instead zones in on emphasizing the merits of the facts included in a certain case.  This category requires a partnership between two students, which teaches students the important skills of collaboration.  

All competitors will argue during four debate rounds—two rounds defending one side of the argument (pro) and two rounds the opposing side (con).  

Focusing more on PF, 11 Schreiber teams with a total of 22 students will debate this weekend, while only two Schreiber students will debate LD.  

For the month of January, the resolution that PF debaters will be focusing on is whether or not the United States federal government should prioritize reducing the federal debt over promoting economic growth.  Students must prepare both pro and con cases that agree with and negate the resolution in order to be prepared for the tournament.  

For LD debaters, the resolution is more vague in order for students to formulate arguments organically and off-the-cuff.  For the January tournament, the LD resolution is whether the United States ought to not provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.   

The day will begin in the early morning around 8:15 a.m.  In between the time  students arrive and the announcement of the first rounds, teams will prepare for the tournament.  Some read their cases, which are given in the form of speeches, a few more times to check for typos or practice their cadence.  Other teams will collaborate with one another to exchange last-minute facts in order to strengthen their arguments.  

According to students, in the morning of a competition, the air is filled with both excitement and anticipation.

“You definitely feel a little anxious, but you’re also hanging with friends which is really nice,” said junior Harrison Fried.

The tournament will warrant hard work and effort not only from competitors, but from the Schreiber hosts. The Schreiber debate team members who are not competing will help run the tournament. They might judge, order what has become the standard forensics lunch (pizza), sell snacks, guide debaters from other schools to their round rooms, and do whatever else is necessary and possible.

“The atmosphere during debates is typically very exciting, with people talking and expressing any last minute facts,” said junior Sam Gil.

At the end of the day—after the four rounds—the scores of the debaters will be tabulated and ranked on the basis of wins and speaking points.  This will then follow with the much-anticipated award ceremony: the moment when the competitors will find out if all their research, drafting, and practice will have been worth it.  

“When I place, I always feel very proud of my [debate] partner and I, because the effort and preparation that we put in always really shows,” said junior Erika Kitsantas.  “It’s also nice because your teammates are there supporting you to cheer you on,” she added.

Some students will be disappointed, others ecstatic, surprised, or speechless.  But no matter the outcome at the end of the day, the debaters are always proud of themselves for the hard work and dedication they put into their cases.