The Helios

Debaters storm Nationals

Jereme Lua

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A few weeks ago, DMHS went to Chicago, Illinois on April 20th-22nd for the Annual Urban Debate Nationals Championships. Debaters Chris Perez and Camille Grundy represented our school, leaving with a record of 3-3 against the best debaters in the country.

The type of debate that DMHS participates in is Policy Debate. It is a fast paced sport in which two teams develop a political policy plans. These teams fall under Affirmative (Aff), which present the plan and defend it, and the Negative (Neg), that present reasons why the plan the affirmative is a bad idea. These positive and negative reasons are brought up to a judge in the form of speeches and evidence. A winner is declared based on who presented their arguments or combated the opposition better.

These policies are dictated by a resolution, which change every year. This year’s resolution is “The United States Federal Government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.” Therefore, debaters are coming up with plans that discuss The US’s relationship with China and the surrounding areas. An example of a plan that falls under this topic is the US handling of the South China Sea and the controversy between who owns these waters between Vietnam and the Philippines.

I got a chance to sit down with one of the debaters, Chris Perez, to talk to him about his experience at the national tournament in an interview with the Helios:

Helios: How do you explain debate to normal people like me?

Perez: “Debate is an activity that requires commitment to defend your position. Much of the argumentation done in a debate round is done months prior to the tournament. Debaters research real world politics, philosophical questions, and preempt other debaters’ arguments. After spending hours ‘prepping’, we then actually enter a debate tournament, where students get heated in fierce competition to take home a trophy.”

H: What is your affirmative plan?

P: “Our affirmative is criticizing international relations and its foundation on a security state. This form of international relation justifies the oppression of the other for self-interest. (This Other I defined as the minority that are not accepted/acknowledged by the security state.) The Other we focus on are racial minorities like Tibetans and Filipinos. This security state is founded on Utilitarian values, saving the most lives to the point in sacrificing others. It just so happens that the people who are sacrificed for the ‘greater good’ are the Other.”

H: What kind of debaters did you meet at Nationals?

P: “I met a lot of different people, it was surprisingly diverse in both policies and people. People were different, but not ethnically; but in social values and economic standings. I met people who went to public schools like me, or from affluent private schools. I also ran into a lot of different policies and plans, like people who criticized race, advocated for the LGBT community, reform movements, and places that have nothing to do with China, like Africa or East coast United States reform.”

H: Any words for people interested in debate?

P: “it is more than it seems, more than what you get at face value. Debate is ‘more than talking fast.’ We aim to find real world solutions for very real world problems. Debaters also get a lot of opportunities. I know a few people who get full rides into college from debate; I also got to travel because of debate. You form contacts and relationships that you will not only cherish, but can rely on after high school.”


I enjoyed how Chris expressed himself and how passionate he seemed in explaining what plans he ran and the experience he had. My locker is right next to the Debater room (B11), I walk by there every morning and hear the perfect storm that is their speaking drills, or the lectures that discuss how arguments work. Despite my uninformed ears, I can hear the passion and the feeling amongst the jargon. I believe that our DMHS debaters are the best in the world, they juggle rigorous classes, and travel across the city, or the country just to argue with other students about politics.

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Debaters storm Nationals