Students Win Debate Championship in Novice Division

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From left: Basma Raza, Alex Zier, a debater from Minnesota, and Lila Friedlander.

SMU Meadows School of the Arts students Basma Raza ’14, Alex Zier ’14 and Lila Friedlander ’15 took first place honors in the novice division of the Mid-America National Junior Division Debate Tournament of the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), held recently in Kansas City.

In addition, Raza was named top speaker for the tournament. CEDA is the largest college policy debate organization in the United States.

The Meadows students dominated the competition with a combined record of 10 wins and only 2 losses. It was the best finish for an SMU team in the four years they have competed in the event, which drew participants from Minnesota, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Iowa. Held annually in Kansas City, the Mid-America CEDA Tournament is the oldest and most prestigious novice and junior varsity national tournament in the nation.

The debate topic was “The United States federal government should substantially reduce restrictions on and/or substantially increase financial incentives for energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind power.” SMU debated both sides during the competition, defending increased subsidies for wind power or arguing that global warming was not a problem.

The three SMU students have only been competing for a short time – Zier for one month, and Raza and Friedlander for six months. Zier and Raza took third as a team several weeks ago at a competition in Oklahoma, where Raza placed second in the individual speaker category.

The squad’s final competition will take place in April at James Madison University.

SMU’s debate teams are coached by Tim Glass, Lauren Sabino, director Ben Voth and assistant director Chris Salinas. The debate program is part of the Division of Communication Studies at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

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