Department of Communication
News Stories in the Fresno State Collegian
“Proposition 30: a smart move or a gamble?” by Rogue Morales, November 05, 2012
“Debate team has successful first semester in return to campus” by Thomas Pearson, January 18, 2012
“Barking Bulldog Debate Team returns to campus” by Thomas Pearson, August 22, 2011
“Fresno State Debate Team back on campus” by Collegian Staff, May 12, 2011
The program has organized, promoted, and conducted a number of public debates. Two of these public debates have taken place on the campus of Reedley College. Tom Boroujeni and Valentine Kovtun debated on the affirmative against Erica Barton and Carla Caffrey-Casiano on the topic of the Arab Spring: Should the United States increase democracy promotion in the Middle East?
Pritpal Randhawa and Jamilah Ahmed defended the affirmative against Tom Boroujeni and Candis Tate on the topic: Should the United States expand the production tax credit for wind energy? This debate filled the main auditorium at Reedley College and included a long question and answer session for the audience.
Graduate students and undergraduates debated the controversial Dream Act in the Free Speech Area at Fresno State. Two students defended the Dream Act and two students argued against the legislation in front of a large audience of students, faculty, and members of the larger community. The debate was sponsored by the Cohort on Urban and Regional Transformation, the Center for Creativity and the Arts, and the Department of Communication.
Hosted by the Department of Communication and the Arts and Humanities Dean's Office, the team hosted a debate on the controversial "Proposition 30" legislation which narrowly passed in November of 2012. Focusing on the tax increases and the cuts facing public schools, Aishah Cope and Stephanie Hartzell defended the Proposition on the affirmative and Christian Angelich and Michael Garza negated.
Future public debates include a contest this April on the topic of clean energy. The team has also received undergraduate travel grants in 2012 and 2013 to compete at the Madison Cup Public Forum Debates held on the campus of James Madison University in Viriginia.
Please see updates and news on the Cohort for Urban and Regional Transformation web page.
The team works with this cohort and receives support through the Provost's Office to further the aims of the cohort.
Also see news from the Center for Creativity and the Arts (CCA). The team hosts debates in conjunction with the Center's annual themes, including Labor, Migration, and Immigration as well as Consumption and Sustainability.
April, 2013 Update
The team had a wonderful second half of the season, winning a number of awards and defying expectations on every level. Almost twenty students competed in at least one debate tournament this season and over half of those students competed in at least five tournaments. Last year most of our debates were on the novice level, this year most of our debates were on the junior varsity and varsity levels.
At the CEDA National Tournament held at Idaho State at the end of March, the team performed exceptionally well. Four of our students earned awards as National Debate Scholars (Pritpal Randhawa, Sierra Holley, Jamila Ahmed and Emma Wheeler). Additionally, two of our students earned awards as National Debate Scholars at the cum laude level (Ariana Willingham and Candis Tate).
We also had one of our students, Candis Tate, selected for the “All-American Debate Team” featuring thirty prominent debaters from across the country. The team as a whole won 2nd place in the nation for Public Debate Advocacy for our public forum debates at Reedley College (Tom, Pritpal, Candis, Jamila) and on Proposition 30 (Angelich, Hartzell, Cope and Garza).
On Monday night, the national tournament also announced the winner for the “Novice of the Year” among all the first-year debaters in the country. This year’s winner was our very own Emma Wheeler from Fresno! She and Ari Willingham won two debates on the varsity level and are excited about coming back next year for another season. Pritpal Randhawa and Andre Mitchell in their second year of debate won three rounds at the varsity level as did Jamila Ahmed and Christian Ybarra. Jamila and Christian’s performance qualified them for the elimination rounds in novice where they beat Johnson County in the Quarterfinals (with some expert coaching on the nuclear power issue from Coach Angelich) and lost to Rochester in the Semifinals, tying for 3rd place in the country on the novice level!
The most impressive performance of the weekend belonged to Candis Tate and Sierra Holley. Beating teams from the US Military Academy, the University of Puget Sound, Rochester, and others, this duo fought their way to a 5-3 record and became the first team from Fresno State to clear at a varsity tournament, let alone the CEDA national tournament, in a number of years. They earned the 38th seed in the nation out of over 150 varsity teams.
Candis and Sierra had an inspirational debate against a strong team from Louisville in the elimination rounds and ended the tournament ranked in the top 40 teams in the country. Quite a feat for any team, let alone a pair that has only been debating for two years. Congratulations to them both as well as to the entire squad.
It took all 18 of our students to win the “Emerging Program of the Year Award,” even those students that only attended a tournament or two and did not manage to obtain many wins. It still counts.
Candis and Sierra’s record at CEDA—including outstanding speaker points.
Fresno State HoTa Sierra Holley Candis Tate
A Rochester BaLi Park, Kevin - New York W 28.1 28.3
N Los Rios RoSi Johnson, Willie - CUNY W 28.7 29
A Harvard BaNe Marianetti, Jadon – Florida L 28.2 28.4
N Kansas State KlMa Short, Eric - Minnesota L 27.7 27.3
N West Virginia OrPa Cooper, Deven – Conn. L 28.3 28.8
A US Military AlHa Hester, Mike - West Georgia W 29 29.7
A Weber State ShSh Holland, Erik - Texas W 28.2 28.4
N Puget Sound ClKw Crowe, Chris - UT-San Antonio W 28.2 27.9
ELIMS: vs. Louisville
The team has its fundraiser coming up later in April and also received a travel grant to the Madison Cup in Virginia so we will keep you posted on our progress.
Update, March 2013 (Pepperdine, Districts, Sacramento State Western Championships)
Fresno State Debate has had some groundbreaking success recently, making some “waves” at Pepperdine and really bringing down the house at Sacramento State. As a result of very generous support from the Provost's Office, the Dean's Office, the Department of Communication, and our Communication Club in the Alumni Association we have been able to travel more students to better tournaments and provide better and better coaching. We could not do what we do without the suport of the whole campus community. Let's get down to some specifics.
At the end of February, the top varsity teams in the Western region (all of California, Arizona, and Nevada) gathered in Malibu to compete for a spot to the National Debate Tournament. Alongside the national qualifier (known as “Districts”), a novice and junior varsity tournament took place giving two additional Fresno State teams the chance to participate in more rounds. Andre Mitchell, Carla Caffrey-Casiano, Peter Thomas, and Alexandra Rivas (in her first tournament) all won at least two rounds against tough competition and earned some valuable experience. In the district qualifier itself, Fresno had two teams competing, pitting their skills against the top debaters from Stanford, Berkeley, USC, Arizona State, UNLV, CSU Fullerton, and many others. Most of these students debated in high school and have two or three times more experience than the current Barking Bulldog debaters.
That difference in experience helps to explain why we were all so excited when Fresno State’s second team won a debate! Jamila Ahmed in her first year of debate and Pritpal Randhawa in his second year of debate put up a good fight in all of their rounds and really challenged their opponents while soaking up some tricks of the trade for future tournaments.
Our top team, both Black women in their second year of debate, really turned some heads with the quality and strength of their arguments, including some radical positions about standpoint epistemology coming out of work by Patricia Collins and bell hooks among others. At the end of the tournament, Candis Tate and Sierra Holley had won three debates against Pepperdine’s top two teams and Cal Poly’s top team, finishing with an impressive 3-5 record and almost breaking even against a tough team from San Francisco State in the last round.
They were just two wins shy of qualifying to the national invitational and their performance put them in the top fifteen varsity teams in the region! By contrast, Fresno State has not had teams in the District tournament for a decade or more other than one courageous team last year who jumped up from novice and not surprisingly lost all of their debates. Not only did Candis and Sierra surpass all expectations, they proudly led a very diverse team (only one white male out of eight competitors and one observer) to one of our most successful outings as a team.
That type of diversity is not new for the Fresno State squad, for at our most recent tournament we brought twelve students, including six women (three of them Black), two Black males, one Latino, a Sikh male, and two white males. This was perhaps our most successful outing in some time and we are very excited about the results. These accomplishments are even sweeter because they took place at the Western Novice and JV Championships held this year at Sacramento State.
Of our six teams, all of them won at least half of their debates in the preliminary rounds to earn records of 3-3 or better! Ari Willingham and Emma Wheeler very well could have won the novice tournament, but decided to compete up in JV even though they are in their first year of debate. They still managed a 3-3 record, beating some very good teams. Andre Mitchell and Pritpal Randhawa also reached a 3-3 record even though they debated most of the best teams at the tournament. Two of their wins were against teams that cleared to the out-rounds and they are on-track to have a strong finish at the CEDA National Tournament (open qualifier) in Idaho in a few weeks.
Another Fresno State team that could have competed in novice, Christian Ybarra (in just his second college tournament) and Jamila Ahmed, also debated to a 3-3 record and Ms. Ahmed won a top-ten speaker award! Continuing the success story, we did have one novice team at the tournament, Lekan Maraiyesa and Cody Nichols (both at their very first tournament), and we are happy to report that they jumped into the fray without fear and actually won half of their debates as well.
A fourth Fresno State team in the JV division, Carla Caffrey-Casiano and Chris Galvan, fought to an impressive 4-2 record and qualified for the Quarterfinals. Their four wins included victories against two of the top four teams in the tournament and Chris and Carla also gave the Fresno State team an extra boost by providing a bye to our other junior varsity team that cleared in the Quarterfinals. Schools do not debate against themselves so if two teams from the same school meet in the elimination rounds, the higher seed advances and uses the extra time to prepare for the next debate.
That is what happened for Fresno State in the Quarterfinals because Candis Tate and Sierra Holley cleared as the top seed in the tournament with a 5-1 record. Sierra received the 6th speaker at the tournament and Candis was crowned top speaker, the first top speaker award outside of novice that Fresno State has won in years. Candis and Sierra did not stop there, however, charging forward against Cal Poly in the Semifinals, winning a 2-1 decision, and reaching the finals of the tournament.
They did not stop in the finals either, putting together a nearly flawless debate and knocking off a very strong team from Arizona State to win the tournament. Candis Tate and Sierra Holley are now the best JV team in the West, winning the Final round on a 3-0 decision as determined by two judges from Cal State Fullerton and one from San Francisco State. Candis and Sierra are the first barking Bulldog team to win a non-novice tournament in at least ten years! They are now working hard to prepare for their last tournament of the season, the open national tournament being held at Idaho State later this month. We will keep you informed on the results from all four of the Fresno State teams attending this prestigious tournament.
Of course special thanks must go to our Coaches. Tom Boroujeni has done a lot for the team and coached our novices at Sacramento State in addition to driving a van for the team and putting in extra effort wherever needed. We also are very lucky to have the help of our Graduate Student Coaches, Christian Angelich and Stephanie Hartzell, who have been traveling and coaching the team alongside their thesis work and teaching responsibilities.
Jan 6-9: CSU, Fullerton
Emma, 4th speaker in JV.
Emma/Ari 3-3, Quarterfinals
Jan 2-9: USC
JV Speaker Awards
Tod Mohney (George Mason)
Anna Moe (Arizona State)
Tyler Anderson (Arizona State)
Sam Munson (Fresno State)
Rosie Falcon-Shapiro (Cal Poly, SLO)
Andre Mitchell (Fresno State)
Colin Daily (George Mason)
Manraaj Nijjar (George Mason)
Nick Carrasco (Cal Poly, SLO)
Michelle Thomas (George Mason)
Welcome back and Happy New Year. The debate team had a successful mid-season over the break and is poised for a productive series of tournaments this Spring.
Thanks to fundraising efforts spearheaded by Stacie Mimura and a number of our committed alumni, we were able to attend the Berkeley tournament last weekend with two teams. Both Fresno State teams competed in the varsity division, almost matching the number of varsity rounds we had all of last year. The team of Pritpal Randhawa and our own office-master Tom Boroujeni earned a respectable 2-4 record, beating teams from Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State. Candis Tate and Sierra Holley also won two debates and were just one round away from advancing to the Quarterfinals. Fresno State has not yet advanced to the elimination rounds in a full varsity division, but we are getting closer and closer.
The team also enjoyed a number of successes at the Southern California Swing tournaments held January 2nd to January 10th at the University of Southern California and CSU Fullerton. We brought 10 students to the Swing, all of whom gave up a substantial portion of their winter break to compete. We participated in over 60 two-hour debate rounds and managed to learn a lot along the way. Andre Mitchell earned 6th speaker in JV at USC and Sam Munson was the 4th speaker in JV. The tournaments featured well over 100 teams from across the country, including a majority of the top teams according to the national polls.
At the Fullerton tournament, Emma Wheeler and Ari Willingham, both in their first year of policy debate, opted to compete on the JV level and actually reached the Quarterfinals where their lost to a very strong team from Chico State (Emma was also the 6th speaker). The Chico team runs a case advocating a certain form of nuclear power and our team has decided to make a concerted push to find the research necessary to beat this case in the future. We will let you know how those efforts go.
Pritpal Randhawa and Chris Galvan, one of the two teams that has qualified to represent Fresno State at the District 1 Qualifier (featuring the top twenty teams from California, Arizona, and Nevada), won rounds on the varsity level and continued to improve against teams with far more experience. Even though the JV division is usually reserved for students in their second or third year of collegiate debate, our JV teams of Sierra Holley and Jamila Ahmed (in her first year of debate), Andre Mitchell and Sam Munson (in his first year of debate) , and Emma and Ari (both in their first year) all won a number of rounds at both of these competitive tournaments.
Tom Boroujeni and Candis Tate were victorious in a number of rounds on the varsity level and received perhaps the best compliment we have earned to date. Tom was ill for some debates and Candis Tate did the admirable thing and decided to debate on her own, quite a major feat. Not only did Candis debate on her own, a tough task on its own, she managed to win a few rounds! In one of her maverick rounds she faced a top 5 team from Harvard, the same Harvard team that won the USC tournament. Candis did not beat Harvard, but she sure gave them a tough battle. The Harvard head coach later approached us and told us that his team felt as though Candis was the best debater on identity and standpoint questions that they had ever faced!
The team competed in over 60 rounds so we also had to provide judging for over 30 debates. Much thanks for judging and coaching goes to our wonderful assistant coaches, Stephanie Hartzell and Christian Angelich. They were a great support and were willing to coach and judge for the team over their winter break despite also working on their theses and applying to PhD graduate schools.
We have high hopes for the remainder of the season and plan to compete at the Northern California Forensics Association tournament in Modesto, the District Qualifier at Pepperdine, the Western JV and Novice Championships at Sacramento State and the CEDA National Tournament at Idaho State.
CSUN Nov 9-11, 2012
Emma Wheeler and Jamila Ahmed 4-2 Quarterfinals defeat Cal Poly Semifinals loss to Sac State 1-2
Sam Munson and Peter Thomas 4-2 Quarterfinals loss to SFSU 1-2
Pritpal Randhawa and Andre Mitchell 5-1 Quarterfinals loss to Fullerton 1-2
Tom Boroujeni and Candis Tate 2-4
Novice: Sam Munson 7th, Emma Wheeler 9th
JV: Andre Mitchell 7th
2-4 Tom and Pritpal
2-4 Candis and Sierra
Great showing at CSUN! Cal State Northridge hosted a strong regional tournament in LA and the team had a lot of success. Andre Mitchell won a JV speaker award (ranking in the top 10 speakers) as did Sam Munson and Emma Wheeler in Novice. Despite just being in their second year of debate, Tom Boroujeni and Candis Tate debated in the Varsity division and won multiple debates. Pritpal Randhawa and Andre Mitchell were 5-1 in prelims and cleared to the Quarterfinals in Junior Varsity. In Novice, Sam Munson and Peter Thomas cleared to Quarterfinals with a 4-2 record and lost a 2-1 decision to San Francisco State. Emma Wheeler and Jamila Ahmed earned a 4-2 record and then defeated Cal Poly in the Quarterfinals. They lost a 2-1 decision to Sacramento State in the Semifinals. This is a good finish to the first semester and we can really have a good second semester with some hard work over the next month and during the break.
Oct. 19-21: DVC
Varsity: Tom and Candis 1-5
JV: Pritpal and Jamila 4-2, loss in semis to Los Rios
UNLV, October 2012
Novice: Emma and Jamila (5-1), loss quarters
Peter and Sam (5-2), beat SFSU in quarters, loss to Chico in Semifinals
JV: Tom and Andre, 2-4
Sierra and Candis, 4-2, loss in Quarters
Chris and Pritpal 1-5
Speaker Awards: Sam and Emma
The news from the UNLV tournament is very good. Fresno State took 10 students to UNLV for a series of grueling debates over a three day period. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday the team was up and debating by 8:00AM and we did not stop until about 9 or 10pm each night. Yes, we were in Vegas, but the gambling that took place was of an academic nature, betting on certain arguments over others and proving that our evidence was superior to the cards held by our opponents. All of the Fresno State students were involved in at least seven rounds of two-hours each and some of our debaters had almost 20 hours of intense debating over the weekend.
Pritpal and Chris continue to improve and win debates in varsity. They fought through seven very tough varsity rounds at UNLV against teams from Texas, Utah, California, and even Michigan. They are certainly on the cusp of earning a winning record at an upcoming tournament. Tom and Andre put together a solid tournament and a great Saturday, winning three rounds including a big win against the team from Sacramento that was in JV finals at SFSU. They are getting comfortable with their arguments and are definitely on the edge of earning some elimination rounds.
Sierra and Candis earned a very solid record of 4-3 and CLEARED INTO THE OCTOFINALS OF JV. This is now two years in a row that Fresno has had a JV team in the Octofinals (shout out to Carla and Erica's run last year) and it is great to see how much better Candis and Sierra are getting after each debate. Their arguments are shaping the community in many ways and are quite powerful. Congratulations!
In novice, we really had an unbelievable tournament. Emma and Jamila cleared into the Quarterfinals, beating teams from New York University (NYU) among others. They lost a hotly contested debate in the Quarters to a team from Johnson County College in Kansas and are poised to continue their progress throughout the rest of the season. Emma also earned a speaker award and both Emma and Jamila are really learning arguments quickly. Quite an impressive tournament for them and the sky is the limit.
Sam and Peter had an outstanding tournament as well, with Sam winning a speaker award and the two of them advancing to the Semifinals at the tournament out of over 30 debaters. Sam and Peter defeated San Francisco State on a 3-0 decision in the Quarterfinals and then faced the team that eventually won the tournament from CSU Chico. The semifinal debate was extremely close, with Fresno losing on a 2-1. Huge congratulations to Sam and Peter for reaching the Final Four and making some huge strides over the course of the weekend. They are quickly becoming one of the best novice teams in the region.
Sept. 28-Sept 30: SFSU
- 12 Students
- 2 Novice Teams
- 2 JV Teams
- 2 Varsity Teams
Two of our junior varsity teams reached the Quarterfinals. Candis Tate and Sierra Holley lost in the Quarterfinals to a team from CSU Fullerton. Sam Munson, in his first policy debate tournament, competed with Andre Mitchell and reached the Quarterfinals. The team also earned a number of speaker awards.
Novice: Emma and Jamila (3-3),
Peter and Tina (1-5)
JV: Sam and Andre 4-2, loss quarters to Los Rios
Candis and Sierra 4-2, loss to Fullerton
Chris and Pritpal 1-5
Erica and Carla 2-4
Speaker Awards: Candis 2nd in JV, Sam in JV, Emma in novice
2012-13 Schedule of Off-Campus Competitions
The Fresno State Debate Team had a very successful 2011-12 season, competing in over ten policy debate tournaments and a number of public debates. The team won two novice tournaments with two different teams and earned a number of speaker awards in all three divisions.
The team finished the season as one of the top three rising programs in the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and we are all looking forward to another successful year. Additional details are below.
The students on the debate team continue to improve and experience success throughout the region. Over the Holidays, from January 2nd to January 9th six Fresno State students competed at two of the most competitive debate tournaments in the country.
Taking advantage of the weather in Los Angeles, most the top debate programs in the nation send their best debaters to the California Swing at USC and CSU Fullerton. This year was no exception, with over one hundred of the top two-person policy debate teams in the country and a number of strong junior varsity and novice competitors slugging it out across up to twenty two-hour debates for teams reaching finals.
We could not miss this opportunity for high level debate and our students tackled these tournaments with great zeal and a thirst to improve. The results were fantastic and bode well for future competitions. Our students also were able to soak up feedback from dozens of the best debate judges in the nation, including debate rounds adjudicated by the top coaches from Berkeley, Georgetown, Michigan, and Texas. Here are some of the bullet points:
* Six Fresno State debaters, Valentine Kovtun, Tom Boroujeni, Sierra Holley, Candis Tate, Pritpal Randhawa, and Andre Mitchell had 39 two-hour policy debates against Wake Forest, USC, Harvard, and dozens of other schools in Los Angeles over the first week in January.
* Candis and Andre reached the Quarterfinals in Junior Varsity at USC.
* Three Fresno State Debaters, Sierra, Candis, and Pritpal, received top five Speaker Awards in the Novice Division at Fullerton.
* Candis and Andre won the novice tournament at Fullerton, joining Tom and Valentine among the Fresno students to have won tournaments this year.
* Tom and Valentine (joining Carla Caffrey Casiano and Erica Barton) became the second Fresno State team this season to win rounds at the varsity level by beating the top team from San Francisco State at Fullerton.
* Perhaps the most impressive bullet point is that our debaters observed every single out-round they could on the varsity level when they were no longer competing themselves. That is what it takes to get better.
UNLV, October 2011
We are proud to announce some recent successes of the debate team. The Barking Bulldogs attended our biggest tournament of the season thus far at UNLV, featuring well over 100 two-person teams from across the country. As many of you know, our topic concerns democracy promotion in the Middle East and all of our students are becoming experts on the region, researching everything from the NATO campaign in Libya to the chances for reform in Bahrain’s constitutional monarchy.
In the novice division, the Fresno State team of Valentine Kovtun and Tom Boroujeni (affectionately known as “Team International” because Valentine is from the Ukraine and Tom is from Iran) had an outstanding tournament. The pair earned a 5-2 record in the preliminary debates, losing to teams from Arizona State and Utah while defeating teams from San Francisco State and CSU Northridge as well as Idaho State and Kansas City Community College. Valentine and Tom argue in favor of US democracy assistance to Bahrain in order to bring the opposition groups to the negotiating table and prevent a larger conflict from erupting between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The presence of the 5th fleet in the region is important for stability, according to their argument, and offering assistance to Bahrain is necessary to create better conditions for US military presence. Tom and Valentine’s arsenal is also quite diverse on the negative side of the resolution, including arguments about US influence creating unequal relationships of imperialism in the region and definitional debates about what actually constitutes “democracy.”
On the strength of their 5-2 record, Valentine and Tom earned a spot in the Quarterfinal Debate where they lost a close round to the team from New York University. Fresno was negative against NYU in the quarters and we could not quite win the argument that the affirmative’s aid to Egypt would actually worsen the situation by creating competition between political groups and rising expectations to a level that could not be fully met. We also ran a counterplan to condition the affirmative’s assistance on corruption reform, but could not win that the tied aid would force reform at a faster pace. Next time Valentine and Tom have vowed to exact revenge (in the healthy competitive sense) on the NYU debaters.
The Fresno State JV team of Erica Barton and Carla Caffrey Casiano also had a very strong showing at UNLV, earning a 4-3 record and a spot in the Quarterfinals. Erica and Carla, both from the Fresno area, brought some valuable experience to the team having debated in different formats at Reedley and Fresno City College respectfully. In the preliminary rounds Erica and Carla lost to sister rival CSU Fullerton as well as Notre Dame, but beat teams from Stanford, Arizona State, and Gonzaga. Arguing that we should express solidarity with the youth movements in the Middle East as a form of assistance for the Arab Spring, Erica and Carla defend the affirmative by promoting elections and a more expansive civil society in Tunisia. They contend that acts of protest and defiance such as Mohammed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia require us to find more ways to express our support for struggles against authoritarian rule. Their array of arguments on the negative is quite diverse as well, stemming from a counterplan that advocates assistance from Saudi Arabia instead of the United States and a criticism of any political strategy that involves speaking on behalf of Others. They lost in the Quarterfinals to a team from Kansas arguing for a combination of Buddhism and Nietzschean philosophies to justify reflection and inaction. Next time Erica and Carla will have a more vigorous defense of action in the face of inequality or the possibility of creating a better reality for ourselves and those around us.
The four debaters from Fresno State in the Quarterfinals also won speaker awards at the tournament, with Erica and Carla in the top ten JV speakers, Tom coming in at 6th place in the novice division, and Valentine following up on his run of top speaker at San Francisco State with an impressive 2nd place in novice out of the larger field at UNLV.
Things have been going well and many events approach, including our public debate on immigration (Oct. 26th, free speech area, 11:00AM) and at Reedley College on the Arab Spring (Nov., 2011).