The 2009 Tournament of Expressions: Finals in Debate, Great Speeches and Persuasive Speeches concluded in February with two students winning top honors. Established in 1996 through the generosity of Robert and Jean Svoboda, the competition encourages the study and develop-ment of critical thinking in oral communication. The Svobodas contribute the prize money for the student finalists.
Sophomore Felix Huang (right) captured both the Great Speeches and Persuasive Speeches titles. He delivered an excerpt from William Wilberforce’s 1789 abolition address, and his Persuasive Speech advocated Taiwan’s entry into the United Nations. Senior Jon Walton won the debate competition, arguing about human responsibility to prevent the extinction of species.
Contestants in the impromptu debate tournament choose either the topic or whether to speak for or against it. Each debater has a total of 10 minutes to make effective arguments and counter the opponent’s position, and they alternate turns. The exercise helps students learn to think quickly and critically.