Debating at Westmont!

By Alex Gryciuk

After two years online, Westmont’s Speech and Debate team returned  to in person debating with a bang! Last month, Westmont hosted its very own speech and debate tournament. During the tournament over the weekend of October 14 and 15, individuals and teams competed at  Westmonts’ campus.

The most popular events in speech and debate include  PF (Public Forum), LD (Lincoln Douglass), Parli (Parliament), and Impromptu Speech.

Public Forum requires that two partners research both PRO and CON argumentation for a specified topic. Topics could explore current controversial issues in our society and come in the form of proposed legal legislation. Past topics include weighing the cost v.s. benefit of westernization in West Africa or whether the “United States federal government should enact the Medicare-For-All Act of 2019.” Before a round of debating a “case” composed of data and analytical studies, partners research for one to two months ahead of time. During a round, two teams argue before a judge to determine which side wins, though a coin toss determines who argues which side; both cases must be researched thoroughly. Each round starts with a four minute constructive speech from the “First Speaker” that lines the points/arguments for the specified case backed up with evidence and citations. Afterwards, a three minute crossfire between both “First Speakers” ensues as both point out flaws in each case with questions. Next, the “Second Speaker” delivers a rebuttal  speech that includes more evidence and clear reasoning against the opposite case. Followed by yet another three minute cross fire, “Second Speakers” question each other’s cases in an attempt to break down the opponents arguments. To finish, a Summary speech delivered by the “First Speaker” and a Final Focus speech delivered by the “Second Speaker” serve as final speeches to explain what has occurred in the round and why the specified side should win.

 Lincoln Douglass, similar to Public Forum, requires that a singular participant researches and builds a case around a prompt for both a PRO and CON side. Some past prompts include “The People’s Republic of China ought to prioritize environmental protection over economic growth” or the “States ought to ban lethal autonomous weapons.”Cases are expected to contain data and analytical studies that prove the point and win the debate. Unlike PF, LD is a solo debate where participants argue on their own. The format follows: a six minute Affirmative Constructive (or case), three minute cross contamination of the PRO by the CON with cross fire questions, a seven minute case from the CON, a three minute cross contamination of the CON by the PRO with cross fire, four minute first rebuttal from the PRO, six minute CON rebuttal, and finally ending with a final three minute PRO rebuttal. 

Parliament, unlike both LD and PF, participants are given the debate topic 20 minutes before the start of each round. With no access to the internet, the team of two must argue either an assigned PRO or CON side effectively through logical arguments. The “First Speaker” starts by delivering the speech that outlines and supports the proposed PRO arguments for the topics. Followed by the other “First Speaker”, the CON proposes an opposite argument for seven minus. Then, the “Second Speaker” for the PRO side followed by the CON side provides another seven minute speech convincing the judge in favor or against a proposed topic. Lastly, both teams are left with the chance to rebut any arguments made in the debate for five minutes. 

Impromptu Speech, a solo event, starts with the speaker drawing from three prompts. The timer of seven minutes starts as soon as the student chooses one for their speech. Although the student only has seven minutes to deliver their speech, it is common for one minute max to be allocated towards planning out the speech. Internet access is restricted. 

Whether at Westmont or at other tournaments, Speech and Debate at Westmont continues to dominate the competition. Well versed in topics on hand and experts in public speaking, each member of the team perfectly represents the diligence and academic excellence of Westmont’s Warriors! If interested in joining the team, email Mr. Becker  at