During my first semester here at CMU, my scholarship and minor required me to take a debate course. Luckily I had the opportunity to have half of my LAS cohort in join me at 9:30 every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Learning the history of argumentation and debate was never really something that I ever thought I would do, but I thought that it was an interesting opportunity, especially since I got to take it with my best friends, which made debating all the more comfortable. Throughout this past semester we have learned a lot about the history of the first official debates and presidential debates, different types of argumentation, and so much more. This course hasn’t only taught me various vocabulary words that I have never heard of, but it has also taught me how to better my public speaking.
Before our class was graded on debates we were assigned topics to do a practice round with. These were our Parliamentary Debates, which were based on a negative side and an affirmative side arguing facts for a certain number of minutes at a time. My group’s topic was on weather or not kids should be able to play football at a young age. My partner and I did awful! At one point we just sat down and stopped talking because we just did not even know how to fight the situation. It was quite embarrassing, but a motivation to do better next time.
Our first graded debate was on weather or not minimum wage should be raised in the United States. My partner and I did exceedingly well at this topic because we truly did feel passionately that minimum wage should be raised in the United States. I actually talked so long for one of my introductions that I got cut off on timing. However, I felt much more confident after learning from my mistakes in the practice debate.
Our final arguments were our Lincoln Douglas Debates, which were similar to our Parliamentary Debates, except we also had to question each other on the spot for a certain amount of time. This time we got to pick our topics. I thought that this would be beneficial for us personally because we can debate on what we are passionate about. However, things did not go as planned. My group and I brainstormed the topic of assisted suicide thinking that it would be an easily debatable concept. We chose the topic and got it approved by our professor before we realized that each person in our group believed in assisted suicide and did not want to fight against it. That being said, my partner and I were forced to argue with them for a grade against assisted suicide, which was against our beliefs. As someone who has rather strong beliefs and is quite passionate about advocating those beilefs, this was the most difficult task I could have gotten assigned in the class. Although debate taught me many things about public speaking, and researching to debate, this situation was the least ideal for me personally.
After taking a class like debate, I now know how to better present myself in front of a crowd of people and let my voice be heard. Overall, COM 267L sure was a journey that my buddies and I got through together and I loved being able to share the experience with them. Taking classes with my cohort is one of my favorite factors of LAS because if anyone ever needs help or has any questions on anything, we can just knock on our neighbors doors and ask since we also all live in the same small, tight-knit hall. I love being able to branch out and step out of my comfort zone with classes like this one with people I am so willing to do so with.