Debaters win big despite low funds

The team dominated tournaments while sleeping on floors.
Monday, May 1, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:07 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The MU Parliamentary Association, also known as the MU debate team, has finished a year of successes despite a lack of financial resources. MU junior Nick Dudley won his second consecutive first-place title at the National Forensics Association Championship, held April 14 through April 17 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The debate team also secured third place overall, with three debaters represented in the Lincoln-Douglas championship.

“To us, it’s a tremendous success,” said Kyle Dennis, a team member who was one of the three in the championship. “We did with three people what other schools couldn’t do with 15 people.”

The team operates on a budget of about $12,000, according to Chris Banks, a third-year law student who is also the team’s volunteer coach and adviser. Three years ago, the team’s budget was $4,000.

“Most of the other teams have two to 20 times more in their travel budget,” Banks said. “We wear it as a badge of honor that we can go out and not only compete with, but dominate, these teams.”

When other debate teams travel, they usually sleep one or two to a bed. When the MU debate team travels, members are lucky if they get a bed. When they were in Wisconsin for the championship, the team slept on a floor donated by Drury University. When they traveled to Oregon to attend the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, seven people crammed into one hotel room for about two weeks while they competed in two separate tournaments.

Some other teams also have multiple paid coaches and money for scholarships.

“I guess it stands to prove that all the money in the world can’t make you a competitive success,” Dennis said. “But it would be nice to have some of those luxuries, like a bed to sleep in.”

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