STEPHENVILLE (April 19, 2017) — Tarleton State University’s first Texan Debate took place Monday, April 17, providing opportunities for student engagement through debate over controversial topics regarding the school’s campus, the state and nation.
More than 25 teams debated the repeal of Senate Bill 11 (campus carry) approved in 2015 by the Texas State Legislature, which took effect this past August.
“Our goal is to engage younger students,” said Dr. Charles Howard, head of Tarleton’s Department of Communication Studies. “The purpose is to get students thinking about matters of public concern as early as possible.”
The debates were part of an all-day event that started at 11 a.m. with a civic expo that included student booths and carnival type games to provide information about the debate topic. The Tarleton Rifle Team, the Hispanic Student Organization, The Gay-Straight Alliance, the Texan News Service, the Texas Social Media Research Institute and the Industrial Engineering Club sponsored booths and games.
During the afternoon, students from Tarleton’s basic speech classes and two students from Ranger College participated in debates. Dr. Del Richey, instructor in the university’s Communication Studies Department organized the event, and students used a parliamentary debate format, focusing on reasoning and argument as well as speaking skills.
A debate with more experienced students took place later in the day. “It far exceeded our expectations,” Richey said. “All the students came through.”
That evening, two students—Quanecia Fraser and Adam Compton—joined two community members to debate the same topic using the same format. More than 150 people attended.
In addition to Howard, several university faculty and staff as well as Stephenville leaders participated in the event, including Tarleton Police Chief Matt Welch, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Sharece Downey, Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash and Stephenville Police Chief Jason King.