Debate team competes in virtual tournament


Nathalie Leung/Chronicle

In Mudd Library, Maxwell Lee ’24 and Kai Do ’24 discuss strategies for their debate tournament. Debaters are often given the topics in advance so they can compose their arguments.

Davis Marks

The school hosted the Harvard-Westlake Debates tournament virtually Jan. 13-17. The event required a registration fee, and all proceeds were donated to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League (LAMDL), a nonprofit that works to develop debate programs throughout public schools and provide opportunities to underprivileged students in Los Angeles (LA).

Head Debate Coach Mike Beitz said it is imperative that more students from across LA gain greater access to debate resources.

“If we believe access to debate is important for [school] students, we feel we should help make it accessible to all students,” Beitz said. “The debate team has a long-standing relationship with LAMDL, and over the years our debaters have helped coach new LAMDL teams, volunteered to judge at their tournaments and even helped in administration at their free summer camp.”

Debate Coach Jasmine Stidham said the team supported LAMDL because the mission of the organization aligned with that of the school’s debate team.

“It is important for us to use our tournament as a fundraiser for LAMDL because we believe in LAMDL’s mission of providing competitive debate opportunities to public schools in [LA],” Stidham said. “We have immense privilege. The [debate] team believes that we must use such privilege to make debate more accessible to students who deserve to have their voices heard.”

Debater Kai Do ’24 said although she was initially nervous to participate, participating in the tournament was helpful.

“I’ve watched rounds from previous years and have always [thought they were terrifying], but I am 100% sure it was worth it because I got to debate people I have always looked up to in the debate community,” Do said. “I [also] got to try out a bunch of new strategies, [so] overall, this was a really great experience, and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity of attending.”

Alex Lee ’24 said he initially felt nervous but ultimately enjoyed competing in the tournament. Lee said he improved as a debater as a result of participating in the tournament.

“Going into the tournament, I was feeling a combination of intense anxiety and ecstatic anticipation,” Lee said. “The tournament consisted of the best debaters from each school and the most qualified judges. My primary goals were to gain as much experience and insight as possible into how these intricate, high-level debates function. At the same time, [the tournament] fostered a fun, interactive, productively competitive environment where debaters could come together and get the most out of the activity.”