Spring 2021 Texan Debate

By: Madison Reed

Associate Producer

On Wednesday, Apr. 21, the second Texan Debate of the 2020-2021 academic year took place. This semester the argument was, “This house moves to eliminate all tuition fees at state colleges and universities for Texas residents.”

The debaters were Destinee King as the prime minister, Dustin Montgomery as the member of government, ​Summer Schulze as the leader of opposition and Kaitlin Garcia as the member of opposition.

Pictured L-R: Kaitlin Garcia, Summer Schulze, Winston Dawson, Destinee King and Dustin Montgomery.
Photo by Madison Reed.

Due to the coronavirus, the Texan Debate wasn’t able to have a face-to-face audience. Rather than let this keep them from debating, the debate was live streamed on YouTube for a safer, contact-free interaction for its audience.

In order to find out who the winner of the debate was, two polls were taken—one before the debate and one after the debate. The poll at the end is the one that decides who won the debate based on how many votes each side gets.

The beginning poll stated 45 percent of people believed tuition should be eliminated and 55 percent believed it shouldn’t be eliminated. This opening poll not only allows the audience to participate in the debate, but also helps see where the audience is on the situation before the debate begins. This allows the debaters to know at the end if the audience was swayed by their arguments.

After the first poll, the government took to the podium. King began by giving her opening statements about why a college education should be free to all students.

King began the debate by defining what tuition included, what a state school consisted of and what a Texas resident was.

King said, “We eliminate all tuition fees, lab fees and all costs directly associated with the classroom. This does not include housing, food and/or transportation. We define a state college as a state funded school in Texas such as a state, junior or trade college. We define Texas residence as one who has been a legal resident in Texas for a minimum of five years.”

“Establishing a free higher education,”” King continued, “would be better for students mental and physical health. Stress is a negative factor to school and contributes to a negative decline in academic progress, poor mental health and also takes a toll on individuals physical health. Keeping students from stressing about massive debt will help them focus on their work without the fear of wasting money due to academic slip ups.”

After King, the leader of opposition approached the podium to give her opening arguments for why making college free to everyone will have lasting consequences.

Schulze opened with, “The opposition does not support the elimination of all tuition fees for state colleges and universities for all Texas residence. However, the opposition does the government’s keywords defined and would also like to include the keyword defined of low income—a term meaning an individual whose family’s taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level amount according to the U.S. Department of Education—and taxes—a compulsory contribution to state revenue levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits or added to the cost of some goods, services and transactions.”

“Making college free,” Schulze later said, “does not mean that college is actually free. The cost of college just shifts from the student to the taxpayer…allowing access to free college will only depreciate the value of the degree. Giving everyone access to a degree will create poor quality students and will flood the market with poor quality workers.”

Next, Montgomery, a member of government, gave his arguments for eliminating tuition; however, he did not speak very long—only about two minutes.

After Montgomery, Garcia started her arguments.

Garcia said, “The first point that my opposition mentioned was mental health. She said that the mental health would increase if they didn’t have to worry about paying for student loans. Honestly, we aren’t really paying for student loans right now—six months after we graduate we will—but for now, most of us are worried about having to pay for groceries, gas and things like that—and also rent. If we were to raise taxes to pay for college tuition then we would have insane rates, gas would go up and taxes overall would go up. It would be crazy to try to live—especially on a part-time job.”

To finish the debate both the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition spoke again to round up their arguments and respond to their opposers’ arguments.

Once the debaters had finished their arguments, the poll was once again brought to the audience’s attention and voting underwent once again. The final score cam out to 31 percent for the elimination and 69 percent against the elimination of college tuition. Opposition took the victory.

At the end, Winston Dawson, the director of the Texan Debate asked the debaters a few questions about the debate including, “Did you learn anything from this debate—did it change tour mind on how you felt before coming into it?” and “What do yo feel like yo could have done differently for the debate?”

All four students gave their responses explain what they learned, whether or not their minds were changed on the matter and what they wished they could have done differently.

They also explained how it was different speaking to a camera rather than to a live audience and later expressed their hopes to return to a live audience next semester.

If you would like to watch the Texan Debate, you can go to https://youtu.be/BI8GzV2yJmo. For more information about the Texan Debate, you can contact Winston Dawson by email at wdawson@tarleton.edu.

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