From South Florida’s circuit to the Ivy Leagues

November 2019

From Oct. 25–27, Lynn University’s Eric Hamm and Kathryn Hamm, assistant professors in the College of Arts and Sciences, traveled to New Haven, Connecticut with four members of Lynn's Speech and Debate Team to coach the team’s first-ever Ivy League tournament: Yale IV 2019.

The Lynn University debate team poses in front of Yale University's School of Management.

The British Parliamentary (BP) style tournament hosted 192 total teams from many different institutions, including every Ivy League school and past champions of the World Universities Debating Championship. Though they faced extraordinary new levels of competition, sophomores Brendan Donahue and Samuel Nvota and senior Christopher Cohen proved Lynn can challenge and engage debaters from some of the most illustrious schools in the country. Lynn debaters secured victories against teams from Stanford University, New York University, Drexel University, Rutgers University and University of Vermont.

“Yale IV proved our most prestigious and competitive tournament to date. I am so proud of our debaters as they competed against every school in the Ivy League,” said Eric Hamm. “After Lynn posted some tough wins, many of the world’s best debaters got to see what we've accomplished in just three short years.”

Lynn’s debate team often succeeds at tournaments in the South Florida circuit, but the team’s recent travels to larger and more internationally renowned tournaments demonstrate that this success is not reliant on region. Last spring, the team traveled to the Pan American Universities Debating Championship in Panama and broke to semifinals, and this semester the team performed competitively at their first Ivy League tournament.

“It was insightful to compete against teams that have competed at the World Universities Debating Championship and to have seen the difference in styles from regional South Florida tournaments,” said Cohen, speech team captain. “Additionally, having learned about other forms of debate such as American Parliamentary Debate Association-style was helpful to better understand the theory different teams brought with them into British Parliamentary.”


Yale IV proved our most prestigious and competitive tournament to date. I am so proud of our debaters as they competed against every school in the Ivy League.
Eric Hamm, assistant professor

BP debate places an affirming bench and negating bench, each consisting of two teams of two debaters, against each other to advocate for different positions in relation to a given resolution. The resolutions featured at the Yale IV included extreme attention to detail and primarily addressed current global events. Eva Quinones, tournament organizer, authored the tournament’s resolutions.

“In terms of setting detailed resolutions, I think it’s incredibly important to talk about policy and topics as they’re happening in the real world,” said Quinones. “We base a lot of our resolutions on what’s happening now so that college students can engage in these issues. We source from major news outlets to engage students in current events and encourage them to stay informed.”

In addition to competing at the tournament, the debate team also explored local books stores and shops and caught up with Mimi Trinh, a Lynn alumna currently pursuing her MBA at Yale’s School of Management. After enjoying lunch together, Trinh and the team toured the school of management and discussed their tournament expectations.

“Our debaters represented well, were competitive and learned much,” said Kathryn Hamm. “We keep challenging ourselves with increasing difficulty—I am impressed by how we meet and exceed those goals.”

The debate team looks forward to their next competition on Nov. 16. The team meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Mohammed Indimi International Business Center, Room 313. Contact Eric Hamm or Kathryn Hamm for more information.

This story originally appeared in iPulse on Oct. 28, 2019.

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