Debate team stronger than ever
Educating debaters through encouragement and positivity

After years of being an official club at UCC, the debate team is now stronger than ever, according to Cody Norris, debate club president.

The club is in the midst of preparing for a difficult meet that will take place spring term.

The topic for the upcoming meet will be racial profiling, and debate team members have been hard at work researching and planning for the event. “We were originally going to have the debate this term, but we have been overwhelmed with finals so we decided to go ahead and have it next term, possibly week three,” Norris said.

According to Norris, there are two different kinds of debates: formal and spar. A formal debate requires around two weeks of preparation and research. A spar debate, however, is strictly impromptu. “For a spar debate, members walk into the room and are expected to speak about the given topic right there, with no preparation,” Norris said.
The club includes approximately 20 members of varying ages, including officers. “We encourage anyone and everyone to participate in the debate club,” Norris said.

In addition to President Norris, debate club officers include Vice President David Novak, Treasurer Cassie Dewberry, Secretary Barbara Stephens, Public Relations Representative Chase Gilley, Ambassador Sami Ohler and ASUCC Representative Michael Stephens. “Right now they have a very strong leadership. It is all very well planned, and the officers put in an amazing amount of work, and it is very successful,” Usrey said.

According to Usrey, her role as advisor is to assist and support students’ efforts when needed. “Paula is very modest about her role in the debate club,” Norris said; “she really does a ton of work. She helped make a way for officers to receive one credit for the club, she provided a book for us to use, and she is always involved.”

In addition to preparing for upcoming meets, the debate team also offers instruction as well. Norris helps put together actual lessons to share with the group according to Usrey. The team also provides various activities and some light-hearted topics to argue such as the “pros and cons of eating breakfast.”

“One debate we even spoke about dirt. It just shows that we like to have fun and not be serious all the time,” Norris said.

Being a member of the debate team offers many benefits. “The debate team offers a great sense of belonging and camaraderie to students. It is lots of fun but also really challenges every member to think critically, be prepared and learn more about issues. It also looks great on a resume and gives students a great deal of confidence,” Usrey said.

Norris said he joined the club because he is very involved with communication and is aspiring to be an attorney, so involvement in the club is very helpful. “The debate club really offers a lot. Members gain experience in public speaking, get to be involved with more people and this is a great stress reliever,” Norris said. Norris added that many classes offer extra credit simply for being involved with the debate club.

The club’s mission statement is to build members’ confidence in debate settings by using a positive and encouraging environment. “Our mission statement describes what we are all about. We are incredibly focused on providing a very positive environment for members, with no negative feedback. We want to really encourage members; it is the most important thing,” Norris said.

According to Norris, the club has had a rocky history but is newly improved and very successful. “The debate club has gone through an incredible revamping to a new, encouraging environment that all students can gain valuable skills from,” Norris said. Officers have also created a new member packet, a better structure, a better constitution and a much more solid foundation, according to Norris.

The debate club meets every Friday at noon in Snyder 18, and the officers meet every Tuesday afternoon to discuss possible topics and future plans. If students are interested in joining the debate team, they can contact any of the officers. The debate club e-mail is and the club also has a Facebook account.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.