Thursday, March 29, 2018

Third Place Finishes at Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament!

ISU Debate Team at Pi Kappa Delta Natinals
The Idaho State University Rupp Debate Team recently brought home a pair of third place wins from the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament in Nashville, TN, March 13-18, 2018.

Bengal Debaters were named 3rd Place Overall in Division II Sweepstakes . The national tournament hosts 82 competitor colleges and universities from 26 states and three countries.

Idaho State also claimed 3rd Place in the Division I Debate Sweepstakes with a tie between two of its own teams.  Bengal speakers closed out the Public Forum Debate semifinals when sophomore Jack Bradley and freshman Kaden Marchetti tied for third with ISU’s other freshman duo of Connor Coutts and Alex Vail. 

Marchetti was additionally honored as fifth speaker overall in the Public Forum debate competition, an accolade presented for high quality execution and presentation in argumentative public speaking.

The Overall Sweepstakes award determined by combining the total accumulated speaker points in both debate and individual events in the competition.  Schools require participation in both competitive speaking forms in order to qualify for the sweepstakes honors.
Nick Grunig

Squad President Nick Grunig said “This is a great way to end our traveling season! It shows what the team can do when we really focus on achieving our goals and put in a little extra effort.”
Kaden Marchetti & Jack Bradley
“Our team functions incredibly well as a competitive unit.  Everyone has remarkable skills, but not everyone generally finds their way into the final rounds in stiff competition,” said Andy Christensen, the team’s Assistant Coach.  “Still, the collective contributions of each member on the squad earned us a national accolade. It’s a well-deserved tribute to the efforts of the group who operate as a team first, and as individuals second.”

The Bengals had entries in collegiate NFA-Lincoln Douglas, International Public Debate (IPDA), and Public Forum debate styles.  The Public Forum topic argued at the tournament was “In the United States, changing the process of presidential election to popular vote is justified to preserve democracy.”  In the IPDA format, debaters have a new topic for each round and 30 minutes to prepare their cases.

In addition to debate, the speakers participated in individual event contests including Impromptu speaking, Extemporaneous speaking, After Dinner speaking, and Slam Poetry.  

Conner Coutts & Alex Vail
The team’s Head Coach is Dr. Sarah Partlow-Lefevre.  “This makes me very proud of the entire team.  They have worked hard this year and it’s a fantastic way to end the travel season. There’s nothing like the energy and experience at a National tournament.”

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

ISU Debaters Named First and Second Speaker at Online Tournament

Jack Bradley, First Place Speaker and Third Place Finisher
The ISU Rupp Debate Squad earned top speaking honors at the first Climb! Online Debate tournament of the semester on January 14th! Jack Bradley was named first speaker and took third place while Raiven Nickerson was 2nd speaker and took fourth place on the open division. The team participated with four skilled debaters, Jack Bradley, Raiven Nickerson, Alex Vail, and Michael Mares. Speakers sparred on issues ranging from taxation of sugar to banning football.

Alex Vail (right) striking topics in a preliminary debate.
Bradley and Nickerson performed especially well during this tournament. Jack’s topic draws saw him arguing against the implementation of a carbon tax, and debating to banning football. Raiven’s topics included – among others --discourse on the increased use of wind energy, and why Democrats politicians should work with Trump. In the end, both competitors made it to semi-finals, and were named the top two speakers at the tournament! 
Jack Bradley debating in Semi Finals with a three judge panel.
Semifinal topic strike card.

This tournament was a strong opener for the team, with two of its members making it to semis, and taking the top two spots for speaker awards, Jack earning first speaker and Raiven earning second, respectively. The ISU squad has hit the ground running this semester, and hopes to take more titles this semester.

Raiven Nickerson debating in Semifinals with a three judge panel.
Jack Bradley

Raiven Nickerson

Kaden Marchetti
Alex Vail debating online in the CMP Ifft Speech Lab
Michael Mares debating online in the CMP Ifft Speech Lab

Raiven Nickerson, 2nd Speaker. Jack Bradley, First Speaker.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ISU Debate Team Ends the Semester with a 3rd Place Finish

On December 10th, ISU’s Rupp Debate Team took high honors at a Climb! Online Debate Tournament. Kaden Marchetti represented the ISU team, with other members in busy prep for Finals Week beginning the next day. Topics ranged from the death penalty to discussion of nuclear codes, and spanned three qualifying rounds.

ISU’s Marchetti was successful in the tournament’s open division. A seasoned veteran, Kaden made it to the semi-final where he affirmed that “The US should require two years of national service [by] Americans”. While he didn’t break to finals, Kaden tied for third place overall and was recognized as 5th best in top-speakers at the tournament!

Kaden at the January 14th Climb Tournament.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Idaho State Debate Wins Both Divisions In Climb Online Tournament

Cameo Curnutt Preparing to Debate.
On Sunday, November 5, 2017, Idaho State debaters won both divisions of Climb Online International Public Debate Association (IPDA) tournament.  The team had three entries including Cameo Curnutt and Raiven Nickerson in Novice, and Alexander Vail in Open. Dr. Sarah Partlow Lefevre, Director of the Rupp Debate Society at Idaho State, was also present to judge and coach the debaters before rounds.
Final Round Slate of Topics

In IPDA, the debaters are given a set of five topics for each debate.  The opponents then choose the topic through a process of elimination where each debater gets to strike or veto topics sequentially.  This means that the topics vary in each round and in each debate, requiring the students to be prepared to address a wide variety of issues. After the topic is chosen the debaters have thirty minutes to prepare for the debate.   

Raiven Nickerson in the Final Round - Top Right.
On Sunday, Raiven Nickerson broke to the final round in the Novice division with a 66.6% win record after three preliminary debates.  In finals, Raiven debate against Lance Harman from the University of Washington Bothell Speech and Debate Society.  Raiven affirmed the topic: The U.S. should increase rehabilitation and reduce punishment in its criminal justice system. Raiven won the debate because she was able to argue that rehabilitation can reduce recidivism and work at all levels of the criminal justice system.  Raiven als received third place overall for speaking at the tournament.

Alexander Vail in the Final Round - Top Right
In the Open division, Alexander Vail was undefeated in preliminary debates. He advanced to finals and faced Aidan Moran of the University of Washington Bothell Debate Society.  In finals, Vail affirmed that drive in theaters are preferable to standard movie theaters.  Alex argued that drive in movie theaters were a place of racial, social, and economic integration and should be preserved as a symbol of equality in American culture. The debate resulted in a tie and the final round participants were named as co-champions.  Additionally, Alex received recognition as the 6th speaker overall at the tournament. 

Notably, this tournament took place on a new online debating platform called The platform provides an integrated system that makes online debate easy.  According to Sarah Partlow Lefevre, "The online debating platform opens up debate as an opportunity for a broad cross section of our students. It provides a format accessible to those who can travel and to those who would otherwise be unable to participate on the debate team due to family or work obligations. We are excited about the increased opportunity for all students to participate in online debating at ISU."

The Final Round Match Ups
The next online tournament is December 10, 2017. If you are an Idaho State University student and would like to participate, please contact Sarah Partlow Lefevre at  


Thursday, October 26, 2017

ISU Hosts Public Debate About Military Spending

Idaho State University’s James M. & Sharon E. Rupp Debate Squad held their first public debate of the fall season on October 24.  The team argued the topic: “Resolved: The United States should significantly increase military spending in order to better respond to international conflicts.” The event packed in a crowd of nearly 125 people. The function was supported by the ISU PoliSci Club and the Veteran Student Services Center.

Todd Johnson moderating the debate.
Todd Johnson, M.A., the Director of the ISU Veteran Student Services Center was the Moderator.

Two teams debated the topic. Nick Grunig and Cesar Suarez argued for increased military spending, while Connor Coutts and Kaden Marchetti opposed additional spending. The teams even dove into specific areas of spending, such as certain missile defenses used by the US, and whether their cost is warranted by their effectiveness. Both teams did an excellent job presenting their arguments, as well as interacting with the crowd.

Audience members voted on their positions before and after the debate, (agree, disagree, or undecided), to gauge how many people were swayed by the arguments. Discussions about military prowess and potential alternatives for funding were presented during the debate, which included an audience Q & A period.

Nick Grunig and Ceasar Suarez
Kaden Marchetti and Connor Coutts
In the end, more of the audience agreed with less military spending. The total percentage of ‘undecided’ voters went down, showcasing the debate as a tool for education. Audience members left informed, and newly engaged with important political issues.
Audience poll before the debate.

Audience poll after the debate.

Table of results showing the negative team won the debate/
Assistant Director of Forensics Andrew Christensen
The debate was broadcast on live on Facebook, and can still be viewed from the James M. & Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society, Idaho State University Facebook page.

Nick Grunig addresses the crowd.
Kaden Marchetti

The crowd at the debate.
Connor Coutts

Nick Grunig

The crowd at the debate. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Idaho State Debater Cameo Curnutt Takes Second Place in Climb Online Debate Tournament

Debate Team Members, Spring 2017
On October 9th, Idaho State debaters competed in their first Climb online IPDA tournament of the 2017-2018 academic. Due to illness, the team dropped from their original 8 entries to 6.  4 in open and 2 in Novice. Open entries included: Connor Coutts, Michael Mares, Remington Grunewald, & Alexander Vail. Novice entries included Cameo Curnutt & Shelley Zimmerman.   

Cameo Curnutt placed second overall in the novice division based on her competitive record, winning 66% of her debates. Shelley Zimmerman, debating in competition for the first time, was recognized for her excellent presentation and speaking skills as the second place speaker in the novice division.  

In open, Alexander Vail made his debut in intercollegiate debate and was recognized as the 4th place speaker in the division.  Remington Grunewald, who is new to the team this year and previously debated at College of Western Idaho, was recognized as the 5th best speaker in the open division. Additionally, Connor Coutts placed 6th overall in Open.  

Thanks to all the Bengals who participated this weekend.  The online debates are a fun competition and provide great practice for live, in-person tournaments.  The team will be competing again this weekend at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Cameo Curnutt
Remington Grunewald


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Debaters Win Speaking Honors in Wyoming

Congratulations to Michael Mares and Nick Grunig who both earned speaker awards at Eastern Wyoming. Michael was 6th place in Novice and Nick was 8th place in open. Go Bengals!

Michael Mares Won A 6th Place Speaker Award.
Nick Grunig Won A 8th Place Speaker Award

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cuban Embargo Debate

In Idaho State University's first live streamed event gave anyone the opportunity to watch the competitors debate on the current Cuban embargo conditions.

With only minor technical difficulties there were many people viewing the debate online and also in attendance at Student Union Building on Idaho State's campus.

The audience was asked to vote in the beginning of the debate as undecided, agreeing or disagreeing. The debate had two teams each debating a certain position of the topic. One team argued in favor and the other in opposition.

Ultimately the side supporting the in support of the leaving the embargo in place won the debate with the majority of people agreeing in a final vote that the embargo should remain. The debate is a modified “public forum” style, featuring one pair of speakers on each side of the issue. Each side then takes turns building arguments and answering cross-examination by the opposition. A unique feature, the “Grand Cross Examination,” engages audience members in the questioning with the aid of a moderator.

"The embargo creates a significant impediment that the Castro Regime uses as a means to exploit its people and get with massive amounts of corruption," said Jack Bradley a debater in favor of the motion. "My partner and I made the argument that until the Embargo is lifted, the United States won’t be able to help Cuba transition out of a dictatorship, and towards more of a democracy. That would lead to more accountability and transparency in the Government, which would hopefully combat the sex trafficking epidemic that has faced Cuba for quite some time now."

This argument was ultimately the winning position for the debate. The opposition also gave excellent arguments against the case.

"The flow of money would mainly benefit large corporations and the Cuban government at the expense of the Cuban people because the current U.S. government shows no interest in developing humanitarian rights or environmental regulations," said Mike Chen who opposed the motion. "Our opponents said that the UN would do something about it, but the UN has had no influence over Cuba in the last 60 years of its membership."

The debate was moderated by Dr. Carmen Febles. Febles is a part of ISU's Global Studies department. This debate was an excellent way to engage the audience and also educate those in attendance both physically and online. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

ISU's Mike Chen Wins Online Debate Tournament.

ISU Bengal Debater Mike Chen has added another first place win to his impressive intercollegiate debate resume.  Chen argued in the final round to a 5-0 victory.

Members of the squad participated in the all-online "Climb the Mountain" debate tournament Saturday. Bengal debaters faced competitors from UW-Bothel, Montana, and Utah State. 

This was the first attempt at an online debate format. Each participant was joined by another debater and a judge in a video chat. With this advance it allows for more competitors from different locations to debate without additional travel. 

"The online tournament is definitely a very new form of conducting debate tournaments and, although it had a few bumps and turns, I'm really glad to have been able participate in it," says Chen. "I'm excited to see where it goes in the future."

In addition to Chen's 1st place win, he was awarded top speaker points by the tournament for the Open Division.  That honor was mirrored by ISU's Sydnee Harris who earned top-honors for speaking points in the Novice Division. Bengal debaters Jack Bradley and Michael Mares received honorable mentions in the speaking points category as well.

"I really enjoyed trying the IPDA debate style," says Harris. "It was a fun new experience debating it online and I was surprised when I found out that I had actually won a speaker award."

Today's tournament was an International Public Debate Association tournament. Unique to the IPDA style is the topic draw, where competitors each "strike" [eliminate] two potential topics from a list of five options until one remains to begin each head-to-head contest.

Congratulations to the Idaho State Squad.