Debate Society Wins!


It has been a busy Spring for the Sea Warrior Debate Society. In April the team attended the US National Debate Championship and won the University of Hawaii-Manoa Bi-Annual Warrior Debate Tournament.

It was snowing when the Sea Warrior Debate Society landed in Burlington, VT but the cold air could not chill the debaters’ excitement to compete against some of the best teams in the world at the US Universities Debating Championship. From April 1-3, Cody Corcelius (senior, Political Science), Esther Smith (freshman, International Relations), Tim Lussier (Master in Communication), Cassie Chang (sophomore, Criminal Justice), Craig Ursuy (senior, International Business) and Jake Mundhenke (freshman, Communication) competed in six rounds of debate featuring topics such as amnesty for dictators, charging players who commit violent sport fouls with assault, and creating a public forum for military personnel to criticize government policy. HPU’s top team of Cody and Esther finished in the middle of the pack of 190 teams. Overall, HPU debaters outranked debaters from schools such as University of Vermont, Cornell, US Air Force Academy, Swarthmore, Willamette, Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Hawaii-Manoa (UH).

To prepare for surprise topics, students read and listened to international news, participated in practice rounds every week and used research briefs that they and other members of the Debate Society wrote in anticipation of possible topics.

The Sea Warrior Debate Society and students from COM 2000 public speaking courses and the COM 2640 Debate and Argumentation class came out in full force to the UH Bi-Annual Warrior Debate Tournament on April 16th. Students were given a month to prepare debates on banning wildlife tourism in Hawaii, women’s position in society and the mandatory voting.

After three preliminary rounds against teams from UH and Honolulu Community College, three of the five undefeated three-person teams were from HPU. The five way tie to advance to the final round was broken on the individual points the debaters had been awarded during the preliminary rounds and the team of Cody Corcelius, Tim Lussier, and Esther Smith debated whether or not the United States should support revolution in the Middle East in the final round against a team from UH.

debate group

After an intense debate, the HPU debaters carried the day as they had done previously in the Fall and were awarded the traveling Honu trophy. In addition to receiving top honors, all three debaters ranked in the top 10 best speakers at the tournament. HPU students Mark Brians (junior, Communication), Jake Mundhenke and Andrew Acosta (freshman, Communication) received third place overall with an undefeated record and Mundhenke was the top novice speaker at the tournament. Craig Ursuy, Cassie Chang and Jake Bradshaw (Masters in Communication) were the third undefeated HPU team and ranked fifth overall.

The Debate Society’s final event will be a public debate held in the Sea Warrior Center on April 28th from 2-4pm. Debate practices in the Fall will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays in MP 240 from 3-5pm. All students are welcome to watch and participate in practice debates and research. For more information, visit our webpage at or contact the Director of the program, Rose Helens-Hart at .