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BYU Debate Team attends Wyoming Debate Cooperative

The Brigham Young University Debate Team recently attended the 2008 University of Wyoming Debate Cooperative in Laramie, Wyo., where nearly 50 students took part in workshops and labs that were designed to enhance and expand their knowledge of debate and the structure of argumentation.

The cooperative occurred over 11 days during which Matt Stannard, director of forensics at the University of Wyoming and BYU philosophy alumnus, along with other nationally recognized debate staff, arranged and taught a wide range of topics that come up in debate, including economics, international relations, political science and many philosophical positions and ideologies.

Also represented at the cooperative were students from Louisiana Tech, University of Colorado at Boulder and San Diego State University. In addition, several teams from the 2008 National Parliamentary Debate Association’s National Competition were in attendance.

After the workshops, participants competed in a tournament, applying their newfound skills and knowledge. In spite of lacking a formal team structure, including a faculty coach and support staff, the BYU teams managed to place 8th and 9th in the overall team tournament rankings, beating out nationally competitive teams from San Diego, Colorado and Wyoming.

Andrew Johnston, a junior in economics, and Patrick Scott, a senior in political science, both ranked 12th in overall presentation—called “speaker points” in debate terminology.

The BYU team also acted as ambassadors, as many of the participants had never met people from BYU or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This opportunity has expanded the horizon of the BYU Debate Team, which hopes to use its new-found presence on the national debate circuit to expand the prestige and name of BYU and the intellectual image of the Church at national tournaments in the coming academic year.

Gary Hatch, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies, assisted with the trip organization and preparation, and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Relations was the primary sponsor of the trip.

BYU students who would like to participate and develop their rhetorical abilities are encouraged to attend practices held Wednesday nights in 238 HRCB, and the Honors Program offers a class to introduce interested students to debate.

For more information on the BYU Debate Team, see the Web site at

Writer: Lee Simons

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