Chinese team to debate Linfield team

A public debate featuring the Linfield College debate team and student debaters from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China will be held Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Jonasson Hall, lower level of Melrose Hall at Linfield College.

The debate will be in English and follow British Parliamentary Debate style. The topic will feature environmental issues. During their visit to Linfield, the Chinese students will also attend classes and meet with local students.

The students’ visit to Linfield is part of the annual Northwest Debate Tour coordinated by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA). The month-long tour includes visits to six Oregon and Washington universities and will give these Chinese students the opportunity to engage in democratic free speech by discussing topics that are often censored in their home country.

Four students from Xi’an Jiaotong University qualified for this opportunity last May at a debate tournament in Xi’an, China. The debate tour is an extension of IDEA’s recent efforts to encourage discussion in Asia through several tournaments and events, where IDEA has encouraged the discussion of prohibited issues about Tibet, Taiwan, Tiananmen Square and Internet censorship.

Over the years, IDEA has learned how to debate censored topics safely, but that doesn’t mean the topics have been toned down. In fact, these debaters qualified for the tour by debating the topic, “The People’s Republic of China should forswear military force in Taiwan.” Here, debaters will be able to discuss topics that are normally taboo, with other students their age.

“We are so delighted to welcome the debaters from China to our campus,” said Jackson Miller, associate professor of communication arts and director of forensics. “The Linfield forensics program received a warm welcome when we participated in a debate tournament in Xi’an China in 2006, and it is nice to have the opportunity to return the hospitality. Competitive debate is growing quickly in China and it is providing some wonderful opportunities for promoting dialogue, cooperation and cultural understanding.”

The students participated in activities at the University of Puget Sound, Western Washington University, Northwest University, Pacific Lutheran University and Willamette University.

The debate, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Linfield Departments of Theatre and Communication Arts, Modern Languages and Political Science, the Office of Academic Affairs/Dean’s Speakers Fund and the International Programs Office through a grant from the Freeman Foundation.