The Voice of Edwin is the weekly newsletter of the Edwin Lawrence Debate Union at the University of Vermont, an endowed co-curricular program which trains students in debating and sponsors national competition and community events. Alfred C. Snider is the Director. 802-656-0097 voice, 802-238-8345 mobile, 656-4275 fax, firstname.lastname@example.org email, and http://debate.uvm.edu/ldu.html web site.
The Lawrence Debate Union celebrated its 100th year by embarking into the winter for a 27 hour drive in two vans to the Midwest, where 12 debvaters and 5 coaches attended two debate tournaments, the first in Kansas City, MO at UMKC and the second at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. After six straight days of debating they returned to Burlington safely after another 27 hour drive. While in Kansas City and attending both tournaments the LDU expedition was able to stay in an empty model home at a housing development owned by a supporter of the program. That's how the LDU manages a 10 day trip with 17 people and only spends about $3800. Students were a bit bruised after so many nights sleeping on carpeted floors, but expressed happiness and satisfaction with the trip.
The competition at both tournaments was excellent, but the LDU was more than ready for the challenge. At UMKC Sarah Snider and Helen Morgan were the Top Seeded team after 7 preliminary debates. They defeated Texas in the octafinal round 3-0, defeated Georgia 3-0 in the quarterfinal round 3-0, defeated Michigan State 2-1 in the semifinal round, and then finally lost to Texas (the second seeded team, whom they had defeated in prelims) 3-0. Sarah Snider was the #2 speaker in the tournament and Helen Morgan was #4. This marked their best performance at a major national tournament and also surpassed the best showing by a Vermont team in the Midwest, eclipsing Hayman & McGreevy's 1996 third place showing. Daniel Serfer and Aaron Fishbone, two JV debaters, decided to brave the varsity division, and finished with a 2-5 record, having learned many valuable lessons. Meanwhile, the other 4 teams were debating in the Junior Varsity division. While no teams reached the elimination rounds, both Peter Winfield and Anthony Pagan received speaker awards. Traditionally the LDU enters its novice debaters into the JV division in the Midwest as the best preparation for Spring novice competition. At the William Jewell College tournament Sarah and Helen were 4-2 after impressive wins over Dartmouth, Emory, and Wake Forest. They lost their elimination round debate 2-1 in a disputed decision against North Texas, thus finishing 17th. Meanwhile, in the JV division, Aaron Fishbone and Daniel Serfer, now in their proper division, were 4-2, but because of Serfer's onsetting flu they were not able to debate in the elimination round they qualified for. The next team in line at the tournament was also a Vermont team, Greta Lockwood and Jennifer Knops. They advanced to the elimination rounds and eventually lost to South Carolina 3-0 to finish Fifth in the tournament. Kennifer Knops, a novice debater in the JV division, was named the #10 speaker.
Although the trip featured many, many students debating in higher divisions than their eligibility, the squad earned a 40-44 record, with Morgan & Snider leading the way with a 14-5 record. The squad owes a huge debt of thanks top Pierre Heidrich, whose arrangements in Kansas City made our entire trip possible.
On Tuesday, 12/21/99 at 10:30 AM a debate took place between Cornell University [Anapurna Singh & Jethro Hayman in Ithaca, NY] and the University of Vermont [Sarah Snider & Helen Morgan in Burlington, VT]. The debaters saw each other and were visible to a global audience through a simple web page which had two video windows in it. The debate lasted for about 60 minutes, and was on the topic, Resolved: That the United States should lift all economic sanctions on Cuba. The debate was not judged and a winner was not determined.
The debate was covered by NBC in Vermont which had a story about it on the evening news.
Here are some comments from those who watched it over the internet:
"The debate is excellent. The streaming is flawless, and, as it should, the technology is basically nonintrusive; the experience is hardly different from watching a debate in person, except that it's at my desk and i can get other work done at the same time."
"Subject to me not trying to email you from hotmail AND watch the internet debate at the same time, everything seems to be working over here in the UK."
"It looked and sounded pretty good from my end. Good job all around!"
"I want to be the first to congratulate all of the debaters, who have been fantastic. When is the first virtual debate tournament?"
We received no comments about serious technical difficulties. From all we can tell, everyone who tried to watch it was successful. We are especially pleased that the debate was easy to watch over a fairly low-speed modem and an ISP in the UK where the major complaint was that American accents get in the way and Cornell talks too fast.
This paves the way for our next internet debate coming in 2000. Our big event is a trans-Atlantic debate against a team in London, and we currently have Anderson Consulting as a sponsor and promises by the USA ambassador and members of the British cabinet to be on hand. This debate will take place in March, 2000. Watch for coming announcements about low-cost technology which would allow you to join the debate! We will be planning additional USA events in the coming year, and those interested should contact us, because the first virtual tournament is not far away. With a $100 USB video camera and $199 for Sornenson Broadcaster [http://www.s-vision.com/products/SorensonBroadcaster/index.html] you could easily become part of it all.
We want to thank Deb Tufts of Apple Computing for sponsoring this event, as well as Wes Wright and Andy Ellis from the University of Vermont, Jethro Hayman & his tech crew at Cornell, and Karen McGregor of Adelphia Cablevision. We look forward to working with many others to use this technology to help foster a growing global debate community. We may not have to travel to debate each other face-to-face.