Eastern policy debate club struggles to stay alive


By David Collins

contributing writer


My name is Dave Collins and, in this essay, I hope to persuade you to do what you can to help save the debate program at Eastern Washington University.

Our team last year consisted of Pierce Oeflein, a running start student from University High School, head coach Izak Dunn and myself, and together we generated close to a thousand pages of original research and represented EWU at six tournaments across the country. At the end of the year, however, the debate program was eliminated. Oeflein and I were both accepted to different universities while Dunn was hired at Arizona State University. Despite being accepted to Arizona State University, I lacked the economic resources to attend and instead returned to EWU. Not willing to forgo my senior year of debate, I am working with Gonzaga University and have debated with Hailey Clawson, a first year student from Colorado at two tournaments, and will hopefully also attend the national championships in March.

There are many reasons why the students of EWU should be proud of our school. Tuition is reasonable and the class sizes are for the most part not overly large. I read in this paper that we are considering spending over $50,000 to bring Macklemore to our campus to play one show. But we can’t find even a penny to give to the debate program, which is truly interdisciplinary. This should give our whole campus community pause for thought. But there are practical solutions. Some departments could contribute a nominal amount from their budgets to provide a tuition waiver for a graduate student to function as a coach. If a revived program held a high school tournament and summer camp then additional funds could also be generated. The ASEWU could also provide funds.

If everyone gives a little, EWU can once again have a debate program. We can be known as a school that didn’t give up on debate and resisted its elimination, or we can just be another name on the list of policy debate programs that have fallen by the wayside. If you found this essay the least bit persuasive, you can check out our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SaveEWUdebate – together perhaps we can save the debate program and maybe Macklemore will be so impressed he will offer to play a show for free.