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UA Debate Series team redefines the future of debate

The University of Arizona Debate Series team promotes civil discourse among members of the campus community. The team’s next panel debate explores the topic of Gen Z and Creativity. (Courtesy UA Debate Series)
The University of Arizona Debate Series team promotes civil discourse among members of the campus community. The team’s next panel debate explores the topic of Gen Z and Creativity. (Courtesy UA Debate Series)

The UA Debate Series is reinventing public discourse through their dedication to promoting respectful discussions. 

The executive director, creative writing professor Ted McLoof, founded the internship program through the College of Social and Behavioral and Sciences in 2016

“I founded this program because of the 2016 elections and seeing how the students in my classes were having better discussions than most people,” McLoof said.

The program prioritizes communication “dedicated to elevating our national discourse” and features collaboration among different members of the campus and greater Tucson community, according to the internship’s website.

“The debate series promotes civil discourse across all universities. We aim to destigmatize debate by emphasizing communication over conflict,” McLoof said.  

There are subteams amidst the overall team that consist of research, marketing and event planning. The students brainstorm amongst themselves the debate topics and who will speak on which topic, which side they will take, etc. 

Marilyn Ayala, a UA junior and member of the marketing committee, described the team’s dynamic and emphasized the focus on collaboration.

“Everyone is doing different things, but we are all working together to receive the same outcome. I’ve gotten to meet students with all different majors who are brought together by the same common interest of debate,” Ayala said. 

On Oct. 16, the Debate Series took a trip to Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, New Jersey, where they debated the subject of Gen Z and Campus Activism with Ramapo students. 

“It was so cool to see how we started in Tucson and are now going nationwide,” Ayala said. 

The progress of this team that Ayala speaks to can also be found on a smaller scale, in individuals who have been exposed to new ideas and experiences through the internship. Jakob Buckley, a junior on the research committee who joined the debate series his freshman year and is now working on his seventh debate, believes he has gained new skills as a result of being a part of this team.

“Considering viewpoints I don’t agree with is something I have improved in,” Buckley said. 

The team’s next panel debate will be held Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Modern Languages building, room 350. The subject is Gen Z and Creativity, building off the theme for the year, which is Gen Z. The three guest speakers for this event are poet James Hoch, author Michelle Ross and writer Grant Faulkner. 

McLoof noted that the group is setting some new goals for this semester to increase engagement on campus. 

“We are trying to rebrand this year and have more panel discussions. If there are any activist groups on campus who want to use our group as a platform, they should reach out to us,” McLoof said. 

Students can apply to the program on the Debate Series website and can follow the program’s Twitter and Instagram for more information. 


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