May 10, 2010
Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
ATLANTA - Georgia State University's debate team jumped 39 spots in the 2009-'10 National Debate Tournament final rankings.
Georgia State was ranked 40th out of 96 teams, moving the university among the top 50 teams in the nation for the first time. The team was also named the number one "mover" in the country, a distinction for teams that show the most improvement between academic years.
"This is recognition of the great work done by our students and coaches over the course of the academic year," said Joe Bellon, GSU's director of debate and senior lecturer in the Department of Communication. "Our success would not have been possible without many hours of research and practice by our students and our coaches."
A record number of teams from GSU competed in a record number of tournaments this year, Bellon said. GSU teams competed in 16 different tournaments across the country, ranging from smaller regional tournaments at schools like the University of West Georgia and Vanderbilt University to the National Debate Tournament at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Our top varsity team of Josh Grace and Zachary Schaller had one of the most successful years any GSU team has ever had," Bellon said. "They won a major tournament, participated in the semifinals of two other tournaments, and qualified for the elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament for only the third time in GSU history. They ended the year in the top 20 of all individual teams in the country."
The national topic for debate teams this year was "whether the United States should reduce the size or role of its nuclear weapons arsenal." Grace said the teams also learned about a variety of core areas of politics, such as President Obama’s health care bill, and certain branches of philosophy, such as ontology and epistemology.
Grace, a junior political science major at Georgia State, has been on debate teams since he was a freshman in high school. He says GSU's team was successful because of the team’s unity, work ethic and the high quality coaching staff.
"The team, this year, has been rather united and has worked together to provide numerous assets that became strategically useful in debates," Grace said. "When preparing for high and intense elimination rounds, both coaches and debaters, who had already been eliminated, would help the team debating prepare their arguments effectively. Georgia State debate team has a fantastic coaching staff that helped me better shape who I am as a debater and a person."
GSU hosts the largest regular season debate tournament in the country in September. During the 10th annual GSU National College Debate Tournament in 2009, 171 individual teams competed at GSU.
For more information about the GSU Debate team, visit http://www.gsudebate.org.