The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Debate team strikes gold

Team rebuilds under new director Squid Monteith
The Debate team has been around for a number of years at UNI, but has been rejuvenated this year with new members and a new director. Squid Monteith was named ‘2024 New Director of the Year.’

Winning trophy after trophy, the UNI Debate Team has been rocking their tournaments this year. They’ve competed in debates located in Oklahoma, Kansas and more. The members and coaches of the debate team have completely rebranded themselves.

For years, the debate team at UNI flew under the radar. There were only a few students who participated in the sport. But, this year, the number of members grew significantly. As a result, the team is now sitting on a golden pile of trophies and acknowledgments. Every member has put in significant effort to make debate a lasting legacy here at UNI.

The Debate team at UNI competes in two-person, policy debate and Lincoln-Douglas. Each year, debate teams representing colleges and universities across the nation select a single topic to research and debate for the year. After completing extensive research on the topic, students from UNI travel to a variety of regional and national tournaments and also compete in online competitions.

The new director of debate, Squid Monteith, has come in and helped UNI students change the debate game. Monteith was hired by the Communication and Media department in August of 2023, and instructs Argumentation and Debate classes as well as Public Speaking classes. The strides that Monteith has made this debate season has earned them the ‘2024 New Director of the Year Award.’

I enjoy the opportunities to engage in complex academics, as well as the community we’ve created.

— Ela Bailey, debate team member

Monteith’s work has not gone unnoticed, as the whole Debate team was awarded the ‘Outstanding New or Rebuilding Program Award.’ Monteith worked on building the program back up, and did so by tirelessly encouraging students to join the team. They did “sales pitches” in their classes, hung up flyers, and sent out emails. Monteith was consistent, and managed to gain more team members for their debate squad.

For this fiscal year, the Cross Examination Debate Association decided on the topic “The United States should substantially reduce nuclear forces by 1. Adopting nuclear no-first use policy, 2. Eliminating one or more legs of the nuclear triad, and 3. Disarming nuclear forces.”

“We debated mostly for no-first use policy and disarming nuclear forces, but we debated a lot with others who argued for eliminating one or more legs of the nuclear triad,” Monteith said.

The majority of the team is built of freshman-standing students. There are a few upperclassmen, but they all pointed to their teammate Kat Van Buren, who actively brought new members to the team. Both Ela Bailey and Reece Whittaker were influenced by Van Buren’s convincing arguments. Much of the team had little to no previous debate experience, like Addyson Kaune, who is a grad student here at UNI.

“I saw a flier, so I said, well… I enjoy arguing with people, so why not?” she said.

The community that the debate team has is something everyone touched on. Many of the team members are in debate alongside other extracurriculars, such as the UNI pep band. Coach Monteith has been supportive and encouraging of their team and members’ extracurriculars.

“I think with the coaching staff we have, we’ve been guided in the perfect direction,” Van Buren said.

Some members have found true solace in the debate team. Many suggested that joining debate has given them reasons to be better, academically and mentally. Bailey added, “I enjoy the opportunities to engage in complex academics, as well as the community we’ve created.”

Over the course of the season, the debate team has been keeping track of their many awards, including having two Novice Finalists and two Novice Quarter-finalists at the Cross Examination Debate Association’s National Championships.

Though, it can be nerve racking to participate in debates. Each debate team does things a bit differently, no two teams necessarily the same. Each group has team members with certain strengths and weaknesses, and will look for any advantages they can find. For some team members, the nerves are higher than others. “You never know what someone else is going to argue,” Graduating senior Rose Britts said.

Van Buren stressed that sometimes, debates don’t necessarily go as planned. There’s hundreds of students who debate in these tournaments, and what happens can be unpredictable. “In one of my first debates, the other opponent started speaking in fluent Spanish, and I don’t understand Spanish,” they said.

All team members have their favorite memories from debates. Whittaker said, “I remember just getting slammed our our first tournament.”

Nobody expected the success the team would have this year. The number of debate members skyrocketed, and as a result, so did the awards. As each member continued to practice debating, they felt like their skill truly progressed. The way each team member participates together is what makes debate a technical sport.

The team asks for donations from those who are able to give. More information can be found on Facebook at University of Northern Iowa Speech and Debate.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Northern Iowan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *