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Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication

Drury launches Debate Union

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Interested in debate? In this Q & A with Dr. Charles Deberry, professor and Debate Union coach, you can get the inside scoop on the return of a student debate program to Drury.

Why bring a Debate Union to Drury?

  • The development of the Debate Union was spawned out of frustration and a dream. I wanted to make debate on the collegiate level relevant again.  We are going to focus on it being a public activity.

What is the goal of the Debate Union?

  • When you talk to professional schools, graduate schools, and employers, they say that one of the biggest weaknesses of college graduates is the inability to express themselves in a way that is not only convincing, but that can withstand objection. Our goal — we want students to learn to give the best possible expression of their ideas and then be able to defend those ideas. Students with these skills will get noticed when they seek admittance to graduate programs or enter the job market.

What will the Debate Union do this year?

  • This year we are not going to travel. We are going to practice a lot and learn a lot.  We are also going to make use of the Carole Lambert Television Studio in the Shewmaker Communication Center. Students will learn how to debate in a civil manner on a split screen where one person can be in Tokyo and the other person be in L.A.  The use of technology allows us to engage in articulate discourse both on and off campus.

What are some ways in which you are going to encompass the Drury spirit and stay involved with the community?

  • We are taking debate out of the niche of people who travel and argue, to people who use those skills publicly, such as on television and in community forums. Students will debate other students and will get community leaders involved.  We will host those sort of events for the public to come and see.

How many students are currently involved?

  • We are starting out with 20 students this year, which is an amazing number for our first year. I expect that number to keep growing, and wouldn’t be surprised if it doubles by next year.

What are your plans for the Debate Union in the future?

  • With the ground work set, next year we hope to be doing some traveling. It is rewarding and educational.  We will not travel as frequently, but they will be much more valuable events.  We may go to the east coast for an event or the west coast for an event, and then we might make one international trip.  Couple these experiences with the television productions and Drury students will have access to a program unlike any other in the Midwest.

What made you want to bring the Debate Union back to Drury?

  • Our new Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Combs was one of the best college debaters in the United States and I was ahead of him in school. When he came to campus, he asked me to consider how a Debate Union could be a valuable addition to our student offerings. I told him that I wanted to do something that has clear purpose, that is worthwhile, and that makes a difference, and I think this does all three of those.  It’s especially nice that several Drury alumni have been willing to provide funding for a new debate program. Being a debate coach isn’t the easiest task in the world, but as the cliché says, “Anything worth doing, usually takes some effort.”

Want more information?  

 Dr. Charles Deberry    cdeberry@drury.edu

Director Drury Debate Union

Professor of Communication

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