Third annual Student-Faculty Debate raises valid question

The Cerritos College Teleconference Center was buzzing with solid arguments, forensics and rebuttals as students and faculty participated in the third annual Student-Faculty Debate on Thursday, May 7.

The event was hosted by the Cerritos College Speech and Debate team.

This years topic was not only relevant to students, but a real decision that community colleges are making: Should community colleges offer Bachelor’s degrees?

This topic was chosen by the students of the Speech and Debate team.

According to a majority vote by the audience after the debate, the answer is no.

However, this conclusion did not come easy as two teams, of both students and professors, argued affirmatively and negatively using only prior research and their public speaking skills.

What exactly is a debate? According to Professor April Griffin, who not only started the annual even but is also the director of forensics at Cerritos College, a debate is a two sided discussion.

There is the affirmative side, which supports the topic, and the negative side, which argues against the topic.

The two sides both use arguments to discuss the issue at hand and need to engage the audience in order to persuade the majority.

“One of my passions when I was a part-timer at Irvine Valley College is that they provide a lot of show case opportunities to show the students talent, but also get the community involved and so we made a decision, the team at the time and I, to have a student faculty debate to engage the faculty and the local community,” Griffin said.

Those participating in the debate were: Professor John Haas, Professor Michelle Lewellen, Vice President of the Speech and Debate team Desiree Rios and fellow team member Valeria Navarro.

The events started off with introductions, followed by two alternating seven-minute speeches from both sides and then ending with two four-minute rebuttals from both sides.

Many arguments came from both sides ranging from the financial benefits of offering a bachelor’s degree to the inevitable decrease in value of a bachelor’s degree obtained.

Many students struggle with public speaking and debate, but for Desiree Rios, vice president of the Speech and Debate team, it comes natural with the proper preparation.

She said, “Being up here is a little more natural for me. I’m used to being in front of large audiences from past tournaments.”

Other statements, such as the possible decrease in a diverse community of community college’s and the transformation to specific program oriented schools, were also used to persuade the audience.

After concise arguments from both sides, the audience was asked to vote on which side of the issue they felt was correct, thus deeming the negative side the most persuasive.

The Speech and Debate team is not only for those who would like to pursue a similar major or in a similar field, but pertains to all students who would like to brush up on communication schools, just like Valeria Navarro, nutritional science major.

“I need to develop my communication skills. In the science field we need to share our research, we have to communicate with others. I wanted to be able to do so in a comfortable zone,” Navarro said.

“I’ve learned so much and i’ve developed better communication skills in just a semester,” She added.

The Speech and Debate Team attends competitions on a regular basis that offer scholarships and overall real life experience.

Students who are interested in joining the Cerritos College Speech and Debate team can email Professor April Griffin at grif[email protected] or stopping by room SS240 for more information.