Debate Tourney Rewards Students

Debate winner Chris Kyle '12

Debate winner Chris Kyle '12

Senior religious studies majors Chris Kyle and Kaitlyn Turner were the big winners at the 16th annual Tournament of Expressions Speech and Debate Tournament Feb. 28. Kyle and Turner each earned $500 for winning the debate and speech portions respectively. The tournament was funded by the Westmont Provost’s Office and a generous gift from Montecito resident Jean Svoboda.

Sophomore philosophy major Megan Monroe won second-place and $250 in the debate contest, which focused on the question of whether it should be legal for people to sell their organs. Kyle, who is from San Diego, and Monroe, who is from Tustin, were the final two students out of 54 who signed up for the debate category of the event.

The great speeches student finalists included second-place winner Sara Reinis ’14 ($250) and third-place winner Bri Popineau ’14 ($150). Turner’s winning speech was “The Perils of Indifference” by Elie Wiesel.

Allen Hopkins ’95, an alumnus, Westmont trustee and ESPN sportscaster, emceed the event.

Speech winner Kaitlyn Turner '12

Speech winner Kaitlyn Turner '12

The students were judged by a panel that included Hillary Chrisley, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church; Betty Sue Sherrod, lead pastor of First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara; Jamie Friedman, Westmont assistant professor of English; Deborah Dunn, Westmont professor of communication studies; and Greg Spencer, Westmont professor of communication studies.

“This tournament has never been more important,” says Omedi Ochieng, Westmont professor of communication studies, who has organized the event for the past six years. “It demonstrates that students can speak and argue truthfully, with conviction and passion, while modeling the virtues of listening, respect for those we disagree with and thoughtful deliberation. It is living proof of the importance of the liberal arts in fostering a democratic culture.”

Kacie Kyne ’13, co-director of this year’s tournament, says students competed weekly since late January. “The tournament creates an important forum for students to find their voices,” she says. “Students from all disciplines not only practice public speaking and thinking on their feet, but also acquire the skill of eloquent expression.”


  1. Kaitlyn. Well done. I knew from the moment you got up on stage in Cameron Sublett’s class that you were going to be a great speaker. Wish I could have seen you win.