Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rupp Debaters now On-Site for Pi Kappa Delta National Championships

Hempstead, NY

JetBlue's Flight 690 landed at JFK and the sun was just setting, though the moon had been round and full in the sky all afternoon.  Tired but enthusiastic Bengal Debaters arrived last night after a day-long journey in planes, trains, and automobiles.

Registration for Pi Kappa Delta at the host, Hofstra University, campus is next, followed by an afternoon excursion into Manhattan to see some sites as we acclimatize to the time change before competition begins Thursday morning at 8 am.

As a nod to the Public Forum topic ["The U.S. should rejoin UNESCO with Full Member Status"], the team will tour the United Nations this afternoon, and other notables including Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, and Penn Station.

Two varisity Public Forum teams are posed to argue tomorrow: sophomores Conner Coutts with Jordan Reynolds, and Junior Kaden Marchetti with Senior Nate Mortimer.

ISU also brings three IPDA Speakers for entry at the competition, including team president Nick Grunig, Rianne Quigley, and Rowan Smith.

Each member of the squad is also participating in individual speaking contests at the competition.

Updates will appear here as the week continues!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Idaho State Debate Squad has solid showing at public debate February 19th

February 20, 2019

POCATELLO - The Idaho State Debate Squad welcomed about 60 students, staff, and faculty -- and many members of the public -- to the Pond Student Union Tuesday, February 19, for a Public Debate. Squad members Kaden Marchetti and Squad V.P. Conner Coutts faced off against Team President Nick Grunig and Jett Smith. The topic was solving Pocatello's homeless issues through implementing "Housing First."

Defined by The National Alliance to end Homelessness, "Housing First [is a federally funded program which] does not require people experiencing homelessness to address all of their problems including behavioral health problems [also including alcoholism, unedployment, or drug addiction], or to graduate through a series of service programs before they can access housing.  The Housing First approach views housing as the foundation for life improvementand enables access to permanent housing without prerequisites or conditions beyond those of a typical renter. Supportive services are offered to support people with housing stability and individual well-being, but participation is not required as services have been found to be more effective when a person chooses to engage" (

Moderator Larry Gebhardt provided a framework for the issue, noting the shocking statistic that nearly 22% of people in any given community fall under the definition of "homeless." Gebhardt also assisted the debaters in fielding questions from the audience during the "Grand Cross Examination," where members of the audience pose questions to the competition panel and each side gets to make a response.

The debate was met with many compliments and the decision was made to re-record the debate for posterity.  It will be available through the James M. and Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society Facebook page, or by clicking here

The Rupp Debate Squad presents public debate opportunities each semester as part of their mission to bring the campus and community interesting, well-structured, and poignant topics for consideration.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

ISU debates Pocatello homeless issue on Feb. 19

February 15, 2019
POCATELLO – Idaho State University’s award-winning Rupp Debate Society squad will host a public debate on the topic of homelessness in Pocatello on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Pond Student Union Little Wood River Room.

Students will debate the topic of Homelessness in the City of Pocatello.  The city has seen a recent flurry of activity on the topic ranging from the implications of new residential and business development, community growth and non-profit groups looking to create or expand housing to address the homeless issue.
The debate is a modified “public forum” style, featuring one pair of speakers on each side of the issue.  The sides for the debate were determined by a coin toss, and teams have been preparing for several weeks.  Each team will provide an opening position – or case – from their research. After both teams have made initial arguments, each side then takes turns answering cross-examination by the opposition.  A unique feature, the “grand cross examination,” engages audience members in the questioning with the aid of moderator Larry Gebhardt.  Short final presentations will summarize each side’s position.
“We are seeking to expand the dialogue on this important matter, and bring a new and unique view to the table,” said Nick Grunig, the team’s president. “We’ve been talking with many interested parties throughout the community, and have tried to bring their main concerns into a concise debate.”
Audience members will also get in on the action by voting before and after the debate on their opinion of the issue. The function typically lasts about 75 minutes.
The Rupp Debate Society team presents public debates periodically. The most recent function, including those who livestreamed the debate, was viewed by more than 500 local and regional participants.
The Rupp Debate Society is supported by James A. and Sharon E. Rupp, the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion, and the Associated Students of ISU.

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