Debate team ends season with a win

After traveling around the nation and the world, UVM’s debate team wrapped up their season by winning the Northeast Universities Debating Sweepstakes title for the third year in a row.The team competed for the national title at the U.S. Universities Championship in Denver this past weekend, along with 124 top-ranked college debate teams in the country.UVM’s team goes by the name of the Lawrence Debate Union (LDU) after Edwin W. Lawrence, a former debate member and UVM graduate who left the debate team an endowment, which funds a portion of the team’s expenses, LDU President Sarah Anders said.”We tend to want to compete most with schools that we’ve become friendly with, which are mostly schools in the Northeast,” Anders said. “We really aspire to debate with the team from Alaska, which is currently the best team in the country.”The first half of the semester tends to involve more worldwide competitions, while the second semester involves more national competitions, she said.Over Thanksgiving break, the LDU team competed overseas in Cambridge, Wake Forest and Slovenia, according to the LDU website.At the end of December, the LDU competed at the 2009-2010 World Universities Debating Championship, held in Antalya, Turkey, Anders said.The team also won the Northeast Debating Championships title, a personal highlight of the year, LDU coach Alfred Snider said.”Now we’re trying to raise ourselves in world rankings, two years ago we were ranked 333rd and now we are 75th and shooting for top 20,” Snider said.This year, the LDU also competed at many national tournaments, mostly in the Northeast, but also in Texas, California and Colorado, Anders said.   “Debating skills are the success skills of the 21st century,” Snider said.Debating is useful because it teaches students to frame complex issues for vast audiences and to learn how to think for oneself, he said.”Businesses say that critical oral communication skills are the number one factor in getting promoted, yet it’s the area that students are least prepared,” Snider said.Next season, the team looks forward to hosting the U.S. Universities Debating Championship at UVM in April of 2011, Anders said.The LDU did a great job at hosting the tournament in 2009 and looks forward to hosting it again in the spring, she said.”My greatest moment is ongoing, just seeing the students develop and thrive and become great thinkers and communicators,” Snider said. “I’m very excited to have a part in training important people that will have an impact on this world.”