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UH Mānoa Debate Team Members Compete at Yale, Hold Their Own Against Tough Ivy League Competition

A photo of the UH Mānoa Debate and Forensics Society team is attached. Caption information: From left, Keoni Davey, Daniel Hugo, Maria Deguzman, Eliot St. John, Sameer Pandey and Kyle Dahlin at Yale University. Photo courtesy of Robert Boller.

BY ROBERT BOLLER - Members of the UH Mānoa Debate and Forensics Society have returned home with impressive victories at the Yale Inter-Varsity debate tournament—the nation’s largest and most prestigious debate competition—held October 22-24, 2010, in Connecticut.

Undergraduate debaters Kyle Dahlin, Keoni Davey, Maria Deguzman, Daniel Hugo, Eliot St. John and Sam Swift competed against over 300 world-class debaters, including teams from top debating programs such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT.  The Mānoa team has been in existence for only two years, and is directed by Department of Speech Assistant Professor Robert Boller.

Although the UHM competitors did not make it to the final rounds:

·        The A Team of Hugo and St. John ranked ahead of several Harvard debaters, beat teams from Stanford and Columbia, and averaged only two speaker points below the top team in the competition.

·        B Team members Dahlin and Deguzman averaged only two speaker points behind Hugo and St. John.

·        C team members Davey and Swift, both new to collegiate debate, beat teams from Cornell, Colgate and Claremont, and from throughout Canada.

Over the course of five rounds, UH Mānoa defeated teams from Stanford, Cornell, UCLA, Columbia, Dartmouth, MIT, NYU, St. John’s, Boston University, West Point and Fordham.  On speaker points, the Mānoa contingent outranked debaters from Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke and Amherst.

Said Speech major Deguzman, “I’ve been a debater for less than a year, and I’m really grateful to Dr. Boller for starting the team and encouraging me to participate. He always believed in my ability to be a great debater, and it wasn’t until I saw the final results from the Yale tournament that I started to believe in myself as well.”

The UH Mānoa Debate and Forensics Society members were invited to Yale after competing last year at the Oxford Inter-Varsity Tournament sponsored by the Oxford Union, the oldest debate society in the world, at Oxford University in England.  They also debated in the British Parliamentary World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, and the U.S. National World’s style competition in Colorado.  Also last year, Mānoa beat teams from Princeton, Cornell and Brown in rounds at the World Championships, and ranked ahead of teams from King’s College, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Michigan and Hawai‘i Pacific University at the Nationals.

Locally, in Fall 2009, a Mānoa team won the island division and came in second overall at Hawai‘i Pacific University’s Pan Pacific Tournament, which featured teams from 10 top programs from mainland schools.

The Debate and Forensics Society, which has about 15 active members, is gearing up for its own Warrior Intramural Debate Tournament from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 6, at Spalding Hall.  The tournament is open to all Hawai‘i college students, including community colleges. For more information, contact Boller at (808) 956-3324 or boller@hawaii.edu.

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