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Local High School Students Learn Art of Competitive Policy Debate from UNLV Pros

UNLV’s top-ranked Sanford I. Berman Debate Team hosts intensive training camp for high school debaters July 15 to 27.
Campus News  |  Jul 11, 2013  |  By Afsha Bawany
Media Contact: Afsha Bawany, UNLV Media Relations, (702) 895-5515
The UNLV Sanford I. Berman Debate Team will hold workshops for high school students July 15 to July 27. (Aaron Mayes / UNLV Photo Services)

Local high school students will learn the art of rapid-fire competitive policy debate from UNLV's top-ranked debate team July 15 to July 27.

The UNLV Sanford I. Berman Debate Team will host daily eight-hour workshops for 25 high schools students to hone skills needed for effective debate, including public speaking, research methods and cross-examination.

They'll also learn how make their case in warp speed at 350 to 400 words per minute (a regular conversation is approximately 150 words per minute).

Competitive debate at UNLV consists of two-person teams that argue both for and against a policy related to a topic in what is known as a "switch-side" format. The process is research intensive and the arguments are delivered quickly and fervently.

"Studies have shown that high school students who engage in policy debate are three times as more likely to graduate from high school and reach college-readiness benchmarks in English, reading and science portions on the ACT exam," said Jacob Thompson, director of the UNLV Sanford I. Debate Forum. "By introducing the fun and excitement of debate competition early in their educational careers, we hope to make a positive impact in a student's academic achievement and for the rest of their lives."

The Rebel Debate Camp will end with a debate tournament on the topic of whether the United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement toward Cuba, Mexico, or Venezuela.

The camp is part an offshoot of the Las Vegas Debate League, a partnership between UNLV's debate team, The Public Education Foundation, National Forensic League and Clark County School District. The league was created to foster policy debate programs at local schools, train teachers in debate and mentor middle and high school students. During the academic year, members of UNLV's debate team assist in debate workshops for local high school students, train debate coaches, and act as assistant debate team coaches.

UNLV's debate team is the top ranked team in District I in varsity points, which includes schools from California, Arizona and Nevada. The UNLV team is ranked 15 in the nation in national debate tournament points.