January 19, 2016

Debate duo wins Great Salt Lake tournament title

CARBONDALE, Ill. – It may be a rebuilding year for the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team, but it’s also a winning year. An SIU duo won the Great Salt Lake Invitational debate tournament earlier this month at the University of Utah. 

The duo of Arielle Stephenson, a junior from Torrance, Calif., majoring in economics, and Bobby Swetz, a freshman from Chicago majoring in economics with an international focus, was among approximately 90 debate duos from universities around the country. 

“I’ve never won a tournament before,” Swetz said. “I’ve been in three final rounds before, but this was my first victory. After careful consideration, I decided I like this better.” 

Stephenson transferred to SIU from a community college in California, and said she’s glad she made the move. “Coming to SIU was a big change for me. So far, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. The university’s great and the debate team has brought my skills to the next level. My goal is to help SIU win another national championship, and I’ll keep working and researching to put us in the best position possible to do just that.” 

The team recently tried its skills in an international forum by attending the World University Debating Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece. Though the format at the world championship is different from the National Parliamentary Debate Association style of the Great Salt Lake Invitational, Todd Graham, director of SIU’s debate program and a debate analyst for CNN, credits the experience with contributing to the recent tournament win. 

“The debaters learned so much simply by interacting with judges and debaters from other cultures,” he said. “I think Arielle and Bobby brought some of those different perspectives back with them… We learned a few new persuasion tips and put them to use.” 

The team’s next competition is in February at California State University Long Beach.