MSU Team Crowned National Debate Champ

MSU Team Crowned National Debate Champ

MSU team crowned national debate champ


March 24, 2010/MSU News


Carly Wunderlich, of Brookfield, Wis., a chemistry senior, and Eric Lanning, of Spring, Texas, an international relations junior, hold the Larmon trophy, which they received for taking first place in a National Debate Tournament.


The 12-member MSU debate team poses with the Larmon trophy.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — For the third time in seven years, a team from Michigan State University has won the National Debate Tournament.


The two-member team of Carly Wunderlich, a chemistry senior, and Eric Lanning, an international relations junior, claimed the honor early Tuesday morning at the 64th annual competition. The five-day tournament was held at the University of California in Berkeley, Calif. Both students are members of the Honors College.


There are 12 students on the MSU debate team. The team’s road to the championship included victories over the University of Kansas, Emory University (which entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation) and the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.


In the final debate, MSU faced fellow Big Ten competitors Northwestern University, which entered the tournament No. 2 nationally and had not lost a debate at the tournament. At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, after two hours of debate and another hour of waiting, the five-judge panel voted unanimously and named MSU champions.


“Carly and Eric’s victory demonstrates their commitment to hard work, research and devotion to the activity,” said Greta Stahl, MSU’s director of debate. “Supported by a team of extremely hard-working coaches and teammates, their success demonstrates that MSU continues to stand among an elite group of competitors in the debate community. Their success is incredibly well-deserved.”


This year's debate topic was the United States' nuclear weapons policy, Stahl said.


She explained that throughout the year, when students endorsed government action (referred to as being affirmative), they argued the U.S. should declare it would never be the first to initiate the use of nuclear weapons during a conflict. Other examples included reducing the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, taking U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert and shifting to development of non-nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes.


"This year's resolution said that the U.S. federal government should reduce the role, mission or size of its nuclear weapons arsenal," Stahl explained. "This topic was chosen due to its timely nature: The Obama administration is due to release its Nuclear Posture review in early April, which sets the administration's policy on many of the questions above."


MSU won this particular tournament two other times – in 2004 and 2006 – and had been to the “Final Four” five times before that. MSU also won the Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament in 1995 and the Seasonal National Championship Awards in 1996 and 2002.