A strong team: UO debaters take first place in two divisions

Joseph Livin was surprised to win.

Livin, a freshman from Ashland in the UO’s Clark Honors College, had just won first place along with his debate partner and fellow honors college student Chandler Willison at the Lewis & Clark College Invitational in October, the first intercollegiate forensics event of the season. Livin and Willison, of Portland, swept the novice division 9-0, making them among the most promising novice debate competitors in the Northwest.

Though Livin’s major is computer science, he was a debater in high school and welcomes the opportunity to practice what he’s learned in the classroom in a real-world context.

“By participating in debate, I see nuance and have the ability to approach arguments from both sides,” Livin said. “It makes me a smarter person. We apply what we’re learning in our classes at the Clark Honors College in a simulated but very real framework and become more dexterous thinkers, advocates and change makers. Doing debate really ties it together for me.”

Livin and Willison won out in the final round of the tournament at Lewis and Clark on the resolution “The United States federal government should abolish sovereign immunity laws,” arguing the federal government should not have the right to sue Native American Indian tribes.

Debate at the Clark Honors College is a team sport.

“I found out that I was more than a debater; I discovered my capacity as a coach and mentor,” said Daniel Silverman, a transfer student from UCLA and a native of Salem. “It was amazing to be part of coaching these remarkable freshmen into such an improbable victory.”

Over the weekend of Oct. 27 the Oregon team picked up another victory at a University of Puget Sound tournament, with senior team members Drew Escalante and Sean McKean taking the tournament title and beating the UPS home team in the final round.

On Nov. 14 Oregon will host the David Frohnmayer Invitational for mock trial programs in the Pacific Northwest. The opening ceremony is at 8:30 p.m. in Room 175 Knight Law Center. Lynn Frohnmayer, the wife of the late UO president, will attend.

Speech and debate is a tradition dating back to the founding of the UO. In fact, it was proceeds from tickets to debates put on by the fledgling forensics program that bankrolled the first football team.

“We’re honored to continue to advance this winning tradition,” said Trond Jacobsen, director of forensics at the UO. “With students like these it’s going to be a great year for the Ducks and the Clark Honors College.”

—By Micah Canal, Clark Honors College