Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

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April 24, 2006

Prefiled Resolution

Final - Action

RS.06.02 Resolution Regarding Supporting Debate

Background

From the early 1900’s the University of Illinois had a policy debate team and a strong Forensics program which was well renowned. During these times the debaters remained competitive by traveling around the country and representing the school on a national basis. They simultaneously held campus forums and public debates, hosted high school debate tournaments, and engaged in different civic opportunities enhancing the whole campus. There was even an intramural debate league and different departments would sponsor debates amongst themselves in high profile locations like Foellinger Auditorium and the Illini Union. The administration was strong supporters then, devoting much needed resources to an incommensurable activity, which was its own institutionalized academic unit. Unfortunately, about three decades ago the program dissipated and in the aftermath of its mist, universities around the country have continued to expand their policy debate programs and reaped the many benefits of academic prowess to their campuses. Our direct Big Ten competitors in recent years have won the last 6 national championships against every other school in the country. The need for a policy debate team is monumental and would boost our reputation. The number one debate team in the country right now within the last couple of months has been featured in Newsweek, MSNBC, New York Times, CBS News, the Associated Press, and even Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” Policy debate is a unique vehicle that is nationally visible and can serve as a valuable tool as we map the new course of this university. (See also: Justification for this resolution)

Whereas, the University of Illinois does not invest in policy debating,

Whereas, the University recognizes the intimate connection between discussion of implications of policy and legislation and the creation of future leaders of our society;

Whereas, the University has a great interest in increasing critical thinking skills and advanced learning at our fine institution;

Whereas, to truly engage and shape society, individuals must have a thorough knowledge of the world, international events, and the current political climate;

Whereas, one of the primary goals of college is to develop critical thinking skills of students;

Whereas, the members of University of Illinois recognize this school’s excellence and want to encourage the best and brightest young minds to attend our university;

Whereas, for such a superior institution, which strikes to become the best, to lag behind many other universities and Big Ten affiliates in supporting such a program is detrimental to that institutions reputation and prestige across the nation;

Whereas, as a school dedicated to research, we must teach our students the most effective researching techniques so they can advance the horizons of knowledge and science;

Whereas, new programs should be adopted that coincide with the strategic plan which helps us understand what our principle challenges are and how we will go about meeting them;

Whereas, creating a dynamic intellectual culture that sustains tradition requires us to borrow from the past in order to succeed in the future;

Whereas, Illini Forensics, specifically policy debate, once had administrative and institutional standing;

Let it be resolved by the UIUC Senate that,

The University take affirmative steps to support the creation of an official institutionally supported Policy Debate Team. Sponsor, Sen. Chime Asonye (LAS)