Debate team wins competition

By Zach Schwartz

The parliamentary debate team won last weekend’s tournament at Stanford University, with Jake Steinberg and Thane Rehn taking first place, and Greg Cheyne and Tim Fletcher winning top novice team.

“The team has not done this well in living memory,” said debate team member Ian Kemp, adding that the team may have done this well in 1976.

Three other University of Chicago teams placed in the top ten—Matt Landauer and Ian Kemp placed sixth, David Siffert and Josh Libling placed eighth, and Jeremy Glazer and Rebecca Knapp placed tenth. Three Chicago debaters placed in the top ten of varsity speakers at the tournament—Jake Steinberg placed fourth, Matt Landauer eighth, and Thane Rehn, the team captain, tenth.

Parliamentary debate at the University had been in a decline until last year, when incoming first-years joined the team in record numbers, more than doubling the membership. While the increase in numbers is a great asset for the team, it also means that a smaller proportion of the team is able go to tournaments. Schools on the East Coast have a distinct advantage, as they are able to drive to most tournaments, while the University of Chicago team must spend from its budget to fly to them.

The results of the tournament mean Chicago’s team of Steinberg and Rehn are currently in eighth place for the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) Team of the Year, and that Tim Fletcher is in second place for the Novice of the Year Award.

Supporters of the University debate team say that Steinberg and Rehn are finally enjoying the success they deserve. After four years of college debate, this is the first tournament the team has actually won together. Steinberg and Rehn have competed internationally, debating at Oxford University’s tournament last year. The two had exceptional success there, with Rehn winning ninth-place speaker overall.

Making up nearly a quarter of the tournament, with 29 out of the approximately 120 debaters there, Chicago not only dominated the competition, but according to Ian Kemp, “won the party.” While this is the first tournament Chicago has won in a great while, the tradition of “winning” the Friday night debate party has been steadfastly upheld for years.