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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Idaho State Junior Places Fourth at Regional Tournament

Mike Chen holding the gavel he received to recognize his 4th place speaker award.
POCATELLO—Members of Idaho State University’s James M. and Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society competed at the Fran-Tanner Invitational debate tournament on Sept. 25-26 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. ISU Junior Mike Chen won the fourth-ranked individual speaker award in the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) event, which included awards for the top 10 speakers. Overall, there were 50 debate entries in three divisions at the tournament.
Aurora Zantman and Karen Lei competiting
in British Parliamentary Debate.
Universities and colleges from Idaho and Utah participated in the annual, early-season tournament. Other participating team members included: Sophomores Aurora Zantman (Boise, Idaho) and Karen Lei (Chubbuck, Idaho) in British Parliamentary debate, and Freshman Jack Bradley (Pocatello, Idaho) in IPDA. 

I've been doing debate for over 7 years of my life, so I was ecstatic to hear that I could continue it here at Idaho State University,” said Chen, a transfer student who recently joined the team. “I loved participating at the tournament. It reminded me why I loved debate in the first place.
The James M. and Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society has a history of success. In March, Seniors Patrick Loftus (Coeur D’Alene, Idaho) and Brock Sondrup (Idaho Falls, Idaho) won the Pi Kappa DeltaNational Championship in British Parliamentary debate at Ohio University inAthens, Ohio. It was ISU’s first national debate championship. In 2007, ISUplaced third at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) NationalTournament. In 2008, ISU won second place speaker awards at both the CEDA National Tournament and the National Debate Tournament.
Jack Bradley preparing to debate.
“Mike is an excellent debater and a strong team player. We thought it would be a rebuilding year after our seniors graduated. But, we’re off to a great start. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this year’s competition brings,” said Rupp Debate Team Director Sarah Partlow Lefevre.

            The James M. and Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society is housed in the Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion in the College of Arts and Letters at Idaho State University. To learn more about the Rupp Debate Team, visit its blog at, or find the team on facebook at ISU students who have questions about the team, or are interested in joining, should contact Partlow Lefevre at  

Mike Chen displaying his award on Idaho State's campus near Frazier Hall.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ISU Debate Captures National Title in Pi Kappa Delta’s British Parliamentary Debate Competition

Brock & Patrick pose under the arch at ISU with their PKD trophies
Idaho State Seniors, Patrick Loftus (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) and Brock Sondrup (Idaho Falls, Idaho) weathered a snow emergency and won the Pi Kappa Delta National Championship in British Parliamentary Debate, bringing home ISU’s first ever National Championship in debate. The team also tied with each other for 4th place speaker awards. Loftus and Sondrup traveled with two coaches and three other members of the James M. & Sharon E. Rupp Debate society to Ohio University to compete in the tournament.

Upon arrival in Ohio, there was little to no snow on the ground. As the team drove to their hotel about an hour from the Columbus airport, the snow began to fall on Wednesday March 4, 2015. By evening, there was enough snow in Athens County, Ohio that tournament officials were concerned about their ability to proceed with the competition at Ohio University. As the national tournament committee began cancelling events for that day, they promised to reevaluate the situation the next morning. Snow continued to fall overnight.

By 10 am, Athens County had declared a Level 3 snow emergency making it illegal to drive on the roads and Ohio University had closed its campus for the day. The ISU debate team was staying in nearby Hocking County which had declared a Level 2 snow emergency. This meant that the team could leave to hotel to seek out food and other necessities, such as ice scrapers for the rental cars. Nonetheless, they were unable to compete, the tournament was cancelled, and the Idaho State Debate team was forced to wait out the snow. Late Thursday, the team received good news. It appeared that the debates would begin the next morning.
Brock Sondrup debates
at Ohio University

Loftus and Sondrup, competed for three days culminating in receiving the First Place, Top Superior Award in British Parliamentary debate from the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament.  They also were recognized as tied for fourth place speaker awards. British Parliamentary debate is team debate where four teams from different schools compete in a single round. The teams are then ranked from 1st place to 4th place and points are assigned. Loftus and Sondrup were ranked 1st in 75% of their debates. Tristin Herup-Wheeler (Kuna, Idaho), Aurora Zantman (Kuna, Idaho), and Mike Eyre (Boise, Idaho) also traveled to Ohio.

Patrick Loftus debates
at Ohio University
Examples of topics included: This house believes a cut in military spending is necessary to fund social programs; This house would remove all nonmedical exemptions for vaccinations; This house supports President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Debaters must be prepared to argue both sides of any topic. Topics are usually drawn from current events and recent news stories. Teams are assigned a position in the debate so they practice advocating for ideas they may agree or disagree with. The ability to debate both sides of a topic improves critical thinking skills and trains debaters to thoughtfully engage in public dialogue.

            The tournament was hosted by the Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) debate honors society. The oldest national collegiate forensics organization, PKD is celebrating its hundredth anniversary this year. The organization also sponsored the first national tournament. With more than 80,000 alumni, the PKD national tournament sponsored 513 entries in 13 different kinds of debate this year.

Back Row: Mike Eyre
Front Row (left to right): Brock Sondrup, Patrick Loftus,
Aurora Zantman, Tristin Herup-Wheeler
 According to Scott Jensen, the National Tournament director, PKD welcomed “75 schools from 30 states. The well over 2100 entries in 23 different events makes this a magnificent comprehensive forensic experience for all the nearly 800 students, educators, and critics . . . performing, advocating, speaking, and educating.”  Jensen also noted, “The comprehensiveness of this tournament, combined with the unique approach that celebrates egalitarian success, as well as exceptional performance, makes Pi Kappa Delta’s biennial tournament the best thing in our activity.”

The tournament host, Dan West from Ohio University, said “This year’s impressive collection of more than 2000 event entries makes this both the largest tournament in the U.S. for the 2014-2015 competitive season and the largest Pi Kappa Delta conference tournament to run in recent memory.”

Sondrup & Loftus receive their awards at PKD

Director of the James M. & Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society, Sarah Partlow Lefevre said, “We’ve placed as high as third at CEDA Nationals in 2007. But, to my knowledge, the PKD win is our first ever national title.” She continued, “We are incredibly lucky to have such great success in our first year competing in British Parliamentary Debate.”

Partlow Lefevre believes the success is due to the hard work and talent of the debaters with a little bit of luck thrown in. “They are learning advocacy skills that will last long past graduation. . . . But, winning a tournament also involves an element of chance,” she said, “you have to have the right topics on the right sides, ones the debaters feel comfortable defending.  The positions assigned in debates and who the opponents are in particular debates also influence outcomes.”    

Sondrup and Loftus receive their awards at the
Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament awards ceremony.

Both members of the winning team plan to graduate in May. Brock Sondrup’s degree will be in Communication, Media, and Persuasion. He will take a year and work while he decides between law school and graduate school. Patrick Loftus is finishing a General Studies degree and has been accepted to dental school. He will start at Midwestern University's Glendale Campus after spending the summer with his family.

According to Sondrup, “Debate has provided an opportunity for me to compete and win. But, more importantly, it has allowed me to develop advocacy skills that I can use in my future career.” He believes, “It is very cool to be able to say I won my last debate. Not many debaters can say that.”

Sondrup and Loftus consult during a debate at PKD Nationals.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rupp Debate Featured in the Bengal, ISU's Student Newspaper

Jason Byron & Patrick Loftus prepare to debate at Gonzaga University in February, 2015.

ISU debate was featured in the Bengal last week.  Check it out!  No Argument Here 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Patrick Loftus and Brock Sondrup Win Pi Kappa Delta National Championship in British Parliamentary Debate

Brock and Patrick received the First Place Award (Top Superior Award) at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament in Athens, Ohio at Ohio University.  It was the 100th Anniversay of the PKD national honor society for debate.  
Brock and Patrick with their Top Superior Awards at the Pi Kappa Delta Awards Banquet.

Below: Video of Patrick and Brock claiming their British Parliamentary Championship Awards

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Patrick Loftus and Jason Byron Take Fourth Place in WSCA Tournament

Patrick Loftus, Aurora Zantman, Cameo Curnutt, and Jason Byron at Gonzaga University for the WSCA Debate Tournament. 
Idaho State University’s James M. & Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society placed fourth and was recognized for debate and speaking at the Western States Communication Association (WSCA) tournament over the weekend of February 21st. Senior Patrick Loftus (Coeur d’Alene, ID) and junior Jason Byron (Idaho Falls, ID) were recognized as the 6th and 7th place speakers, were finalists, and placed 4th overall.  

Sixteen schools from across the northwest participated in the tournament hosted at Gonzaga University’s campus, in Spokane WA. There were sixty-one debate entries across three divisions of debate.  Idaho State participated in British Parliamentary debate, a team debate that features a persuasive speaking style on topics pulled from recent news stories.

ISU debaters supported and opposed a variety of topics over five preliminary rounds. Both ISU teams were on the supporting side of instituting quotas based on socio-economic status in public schools, and argued against the food industry having an obligation to make currently unhealthy foods healthier.
Jason Byron & Partick Loftus Prepare to debate at Gonzaga University.

The final round topic focused on media stereotypes. Loftus and Byron were required to support the position that television actors of a minority group have a moral obligation to reject roles that are negative or stereotypical. Their primary argument was that negative or stereotypical roles violate a person’s basic human dignity, and that actors should reject these roles to protect their own sense of human worth.

Also in the final round were teams from Carroll College, Gonzaga University and Northwest University. A panel of judges from regional universities ranked each team in the debate. Idaho State’s team took fourth place and Gonzaga University’s team, who also supported actors’ rejection of stereotypical roles, took first place in the round.

Assistant Director of Forensics, Willow Moline said, “The final round was a tough debate, with excellent arguments from all of the teams involved. Patrick and Jason gave speeches that were compelling and engaging, and reflected the work they have been putting into developing their skills.”

Also competing for ISU were junior Aurora Zantman (Kuna, ID) and freshman Cameo Curnutt (Las Vegas, NV). Zantman and Curnutt took second place in over half of their rounds. Director of Forensics, Sarah Partlow-Lefevre remarked, “Cameo and Aurora did very well, especially considering that this was the first tournament for Cameo. They have grown as debaters and can be very proud of their performance.”  
Cameo Curnutt and Aurora Zantman at the WSCA Debate tournament.  
Idaho State Debate will be travelling to Salem, OR the weekend of the 28th for the Hatfield Memorial Debates, before wrapping up the season in early March at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament, hosted by Ohio University.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tristin Herup-Wheeler named Second Place Novice speaker award at Western Washington University

Congratulations to Tristin Herrup-Wheeler for winning the Second Place Novice speaker award at Western Washington University last weekend. There were more than 220 individual debaters at the tournament and 150 debate entries. We are proud to represent the Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion, the Idaho State University College of Arts & Letters, ASISU, and Idaho State University.  <3 ISU Debate

Pictured front to back: Tristin Herup-Wheeler, Alex Klingonsmith, Jason E. Stark, Aurora Linda Zantman, Emma Finch, and Molly Draben