SMU debater Jaden Warren experienced many firsts at a TCU debate tournament in early October. It was Warren’s first time to compete in an international parliamentary debate and his first time to win the top speaker award.
Warren, a junior studying public policy and economics, said he really didn’t know what to expect going into the debate.
“It was really refreshing and encouraging to have success, especially because SMU had never competed in this specific type of debate before,” Warren said.
The tournament titled “For the Sake of Argument” was co-hosted by TCU and the University of Kentucky and featured competitors from across the country.
In one round Warren went head to head with a TCU debater and emerged victorious.
“Actually a TCU graduate judged that round. But he ended up voting for the SMU students,” Warren said.
Warren was the top seed in the tournament at the end of the preliminary rounds. Although he lost the final round on a 2-1 decision, he remained the top scorer in the parliamentary debate category and won the award for top speaker in this category.
Parliamentary debate is an individual event in which each student is given 30 minutes to research and prepare arguments for a debate on an impromptu topic. The only resources they are allowed to bring into the debate are the handwritten notes taken during their brief prep period. Warren said they have no idea what the topics are going to be.
“You could get anything from sports players, to government policy, to advanced philosophy,” Warren said.
Warren’s topics varied from government intervention and the economy to comparing and contrasting Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s philosophies on utilitarianism.
Warren added that the debater’s job is to not just explain the topic, but to provide a deeper analysis. To prepare, Warren read articles related to policy analysis rather than just strictly news stories.
Warren will compete at Whitworth University in Washington next weekend. He is coached by SMU Meadows Associate Professor and Director of Debate Ben Voth, Deadman College Lecturer of English Ross Sloan and Caress Russell, the James Farmer Jr. Great Debater Fellow at SMU.