Students in Speech and Debate discuss keeping nuclear weapons and decriminalizing drugs


Max Zonana

Keeping or eliminating nuclear weapons was a topic debated by senior Amelie Sen at the prerequisite for the state qualifier tournament two Saturdays ago. 

Sen is the vice president of the Speech and Debate club, a student-run organization of both MVHS and LAHS students, that competes against other schools in tournaments. Sen specifically competes in and is the captain for Lincoln Douglas, a one-on-one debate, where competitors have one or two months to prepare and make sure that they know all the outs and ins of their topic.

Students celebrate after successful tournament. Photo courtesy of Amelie Sen.

According to Sen, she likes Lincoln Douglas better than the non-individual events because she is not dependent on another person.

“In Lincoln Douglas, I have not only gotten a lot of skills just for myself and my independence, I’ve actually grown way more confident as an individual speaker,” Sen said.

Club practices in library. Photo courtesy of Amelie Sen.

Sen has also learned skills from the Speech and Debate club that can be applied to her classes. 

“You learn research skills that are helpful in any of your classes,” Sen said. 

Many of the debate topics require lots of research because the topics are timely and important issues like standardized testing or decriminalizing drugs after the opioid crisis. This is something that Sen enjoys about the club because she has always been interested in current events and the news. 

“It’s good to see what’s happening elsewhere in the country or elsewhere in the world and be educated on that,” Sen said.

A pair of debaters study their tournament topic. Photo courtesy of Amelie Sen.

Debate is a judged event, and normally the judges are parents of participants, but sometimes students can judge if there is no conflict of interest. Sen is one of these students who judge and plans to judge at debates at Stanford and Berkeley.

 “Judging is really nice, especially if you’re judging a new generation of debaters and can give them feedback,” Sen said.

But Sen says she loves debate more than judging because she debates more. “I obviously love standing up and presenting my arguments and just having a full-fledged debate round,” Sen said. 

Sen feels passionate about others joining the club because, “it’s a very great community,” she said, “you’ll learn a lot just from coming to one practice or a couple practices.”