Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

University Newsroom


Tanya Cochran

Loyola University Chicago’s Debate Team Qualifies for National Competition

CHICAGO, March 16, 2004 Loyola University Chicago junior Brian Gillis is hoping the four years he spent debating in high school along with the three years he’s devoted to Loyola’s team will pay off at the national debate team competition this April. Gillis, who’s majoring in English, history and international studies, and Emily Doty, a sophomore, criminal justice major, are only the second Loyola team in the last two years to advance to finals since 1972.

“We expect to do very well,” Gillis said. “It will be wonderful just to go and soak it all in.”

Gillis and Doty qualified to participate in their first national debate competition after Loyola’s varsity team captured its second consecutive win at Marquette University in February. They will be one of 78 teams competing for the national title at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., April 2-5.

As they did at the district competition, the teams will be debating U.S. European Relations focusing on variety of issues including full withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, peacekeeping and reconstruction in Iraq, genetically modified foods, and interactions between world trade organizations.

Judges evaluate the students’ arguments in response to the other teams’ answers and positions, said David Romanelli, Loyola’s debate coach and communications instructor. A good deal of weight is given to the evidence the students present to support their claims.
“It has been said that a national circuit debater does the equivalent amount of research to a master’s thesis in a year,” he said.

“At the national tournament, Brian and Emily will face the toughest competition in the nation,” Romanelli continued. “Many of the teams at the competition will have attended and have won awards at several of the top tournaments.”

Gillis and Doty both stand firmly behind the idea that the United States should remove all of its tactile weapons from Europe. “I think that it is very important to critically examine our nation’s current policies and attitudes,” Doty said. “Throughout debates we look at our overall position in world affairs and focus on such problematic issues as Iraq, European relations, and international terrorism and weapons proliferation. The research and discussion that goes into our debates this year allows us to have a well informed and well rounded view of the world.”

In high school, Doty was involved with a speech and debate program that was nationally ranked within the top 10 of the participating schools. During her junior year, she won the Kalispell Kickoff tournament and the Missoula Garden City Invitational Tournaments. Aside from winning those two tournaments, she consistently placed in other tournaments her junior and senior year.

“We plan to take the tournament one round at a time,” Doty said. “We hope to find the weaknesses within the other team’s cases and really try to focus on and exploit those weaknesses. I largely look at this tournament as a learning experience. This is only my second year of college debate and I still have a lot to learn.”

Gillis, who was recruited by Romanelli to participate on Loyola’s debate team, was also offered a scholarship. “It gave me the opportunity to participate in a long-standing organization at Loyola,” he said. Founded in 1875, Loyola’s debating society is the oldest student organization on campus. Debating, he continued “has really given me a lot more confidence as a public speaker and has showed me how basic discourse can prompt policy change.”

Despite a major setback the team faced this year when its top debater and national qualifier from last year underwent throat surgery, Romanelli believes the two Loyola competitors will shine.

“Brian and Emily’s accomplishment is all the more impressive due to the fact that our program has one of the smallest budgets, if not the smallest, of all the qualifying teams,” Romanelli added. “It will be an uphill battle, but they are honored and excited about the challenge.”

For more information about the debate team, contact Romanelli at 312.508.3808.
About Loyola University Chicago

Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is among the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities” in its annual publications. For more information, please visit our web site at www.luc.edu.




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