Monday, November 9, 2015

Standing Room Only for ISU Public Debate on Syrian Refugee Crisis: Team Arguing that US Should Accept 1,000,000 Refugees Wins

Michael Mares, Ethan Likness, and Nate Graves in the Public Debate.
Idaho State University Senior Nate Graves and Freshman Ethan Likness, arguing that “the United States should accept 1,000,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years,” won the public debate at the Pond Student Union Building on November 5.

Nate Graves
The outreach event for the Rupp Debate Team, drew a capacity crowd of 50 people—a diverse mix of students, staff, faculty and community members—to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River Suites. The winner was decided by the audience, which voted before the debate in order to establish a baseline opinion measurement, and again after the debate, to gauge the shift in opinion that resulted from the arguments presented by each side.
Michael Mares
The debate included three rounds: during the first round, each of the four speakers delivered a five minute speech supporting his team’s position; during the second round, or the “crossfire round,” the audience asked the speakers questions; and during the third round, the speakers delivered 3-4 minute closing statements.        
Ethan Likness
Graves and Likness argued that since the United States is a nation of immigrants, it has a moral imperative to accept the Syrian refugees. The negative team, or opposition, comprised of Freshman Jack Bradley and Senior Michael Mares, countered that the United States should not accept the refugees, but rather, should invade Syria to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They argued that simply accepting 1,000,000 refugees would only help one quarter of the estimated 4,000,000 total Syrian refugees displaced by the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011. Instead, they proposed that a US ground intervention to stabilize the situation by defeating ISIS would help all Syrians, and was the best way to ensure an end to the refugee crisis. Graves and Likness refuted the negative team’s counter plan with the argument that US military interventions haven’t always been successful. They offered the examples of Vietnam and Iraq.

Jack Bradley
Prior to the debate, 29 percent of audience members voted in favor of the motion, 33 percent were opposed to it, and 38 percent were undecided. 

Following the debate, 50 percent were in favor, and 50 percent were opposed. 

Thus, despite the fact that audience opinion was evenly split following the contest, it shifted slightly in favor of the affirmative team of Graves and Likness, giving them the win because their audience support increased by 21 percentage points while the opposition’s support increase by 17 percentage points. 
All four speakers were members of the ISU Rupp Debate Team. The team is housed in the Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion in the College of Arts and Letters at Idaho State University.  For more information about the team, contact Head Coach Sarah Partlow Lefevre at