Linfield hosts character debate

Students from visiting schools debate about serious topics, such as oil and the swince flu, in the 81st Mahaffey Memorial Tournament on Nov. 12-14 on the Linfield campus. Joel Ray/Photo editor

Despite that they were debating about serious topics, such as the swine flu, the students used their acting skills to impersonate famous characters like Ellen Degeneres and Jon Stewart.

These character debates were part of the 81st Mahaffey Memorial Tournament, where 24 colleges and universities met at Linfield’s campus Nov. 12-14, capitalizing on their debate and speaking skills to compete.

“The character debate is an event that isn’t offered at other colleges,” sophomore Clara Martinez said in an email.

Martinez said Linfield’s forensics team did well in the tournament, with Martinez scoring first place in the junior persuasion category and freshmen Matt Baurichter and Michal Zier making it to semi-finals in junior British
Parliamentary Debate.

Even though Martinez said the event required a lot of set-up and preparation time, she enjoyed how the home tournament allowed a comfortable atmosphere.

“Home tournaments are usually much more relaxed for us as competitors,” Martinez said. “In between rounds I can stop by my dorm room if I forget to grab something and getting some rest is a bit easier.”

But despite the wide range of participating schools and success of the tournament, few Linfield supporters attended the event, freshman Caitlyn  Bruno said.

Buno said that because the forensics team is such a small program, it’s difficult to get extensive support.

“In general, most people don’t know everything that goes into the team, even if they’ve heard of it,” Bruno said. “But they are still interested when I tell them that I’m part of the program.”

But despite the lack of recognition, Martinez said the tournaments and being part of the team have enhanced her speaking and reasoning skills.

“Competing in a variety of individual events has helped me improve my debating skills,” Martinez said. “I have gained so much public speaking experience that it has spilled over into my classroom participation and presentations for the better. I have realized that with speech and debate, all I can do is improve with dedication, passion and practice.”

Joanna Peterson/
Managing editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at

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