The Westminster debate team was started in 1987 by Dr. John Bartlett (Interim Headmaster). Through the years, it has offered Westminster students the opportunity to develop their skills in critical thinking, research, and argumentation. Our hope is that the students will put these skills to use to create a strong foundation for their Christian faith. Novice and Varsity Debate are offered as elective courses in the fall semester. The following information provides a snapshot of what Westminster’s program entails. The current debate coaches are Lisa Cook and Craig Johnson.
One setting that Westminster’s debaters compete in is policy debate. In this debate format, a team of two debaters competes in each tournament by arguing both for (affirmative) and against (negative) a predetermined annual resolution. These resolutions focus on U.S. government policy (either domestic or international) and are selected by a coalition of several national debate organizations each year. This debate format requires teamwork and intense research preparation. Debaters are expected both to provide current evidence to support their arguments and to organize their positions in a standard format. Policy Debate is the most technical of the three debate formats.
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.
This debate format is focused on ethical issues and values. The format is for individual debaters, and the topic changes throughout the year. Some example resolutions for the Lincoln Douglas Debate format are shown below.
Resolved: States ought not possess nuclear weapons.
Resolved: The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice.
Public Forum Debate
Public forum (also known as Crossfire Debate) is the newest debate format (2 person teams) which focuses on topics of national importance in a manner in which a “common person” would understand. The format includes shorter speeches and places emphasis on the “crossfire” questioning component. Resolutions change each month. Beginning in 2011, Westminster now offers this format of debate. Some example resolutions for the public forum debate format are shown below.
Resolved: Allowing deep water offshore oil drilling is in the best interest of the United States.
Resolved: NATO presence improves the lives of Afghan citizens.
View a video of our students participating in public forum debate: