MCLA’s Debate Club is no stranger to the SGA’s Club of the Month competition; in their inaugural year, they won the honor for September 2016. Now a year later, they have nabbed their second such award, for the month of November.
“It’s awesome,” Club President Andrew Baillargeon said. “It’s a phenomenal way to close out the semester. We had been planning an end-of-the-semester party anyway, but this will make that even sweeter. This tells our membership that their hard work and attendance is paying off. This is going to make working towards our goals this year easier and more fulfilling.”
The award serves as a strong sendoff for two Debate Club members who will have to leave the club next semester: Treasurer Corey Powers, who will be studying abroad, and Huikang “Hank” Fu, who will be heading back to China after studying at MCLA as part of the College’s foreign exchange program.
According to Baillargeon, who was an original member of the club, the Debate Club of September 2016 and November 2017 are like “night and day,” as the club has a keen focus on being a competitive debate team.
“We’ve got aspirations, we’re gonna represent ourselves and the College in a regional competition within the next semester,” he said. “We’re molding ourselves into a true, competitive, actual debate team. Not that we were anything less than that in 2016 by any means, but we have a totally different initiative now and this will fuel our motivation even further.”
According to Baillargeon, a Debate Club general meeting is comprised of just that — debate. The club randomly selects the topic the week beforehand, and uses the week to research the topic in preparation for the debate. Sometimes, members are even assigned stances on certain issues.
“Sometimes, they get to be on the side they agree with, other times they don’t,” he said. “They can really learn how to play the devil’s advocate this way, a crucial skill in debating.”
As such, the club’s hardest task this semester has been selecting and agreeing upon the weekly debate format.
“It used to be retention, but our attendance lately has been great,” he said. “Honestly, finding a debate format won’t even be too, too difficult either, but that would probably be our toughest task.”
While many clubs suffer from inconsistent attendance and membership, this is not the case for Debate Club. Baillargeon described it as being a close-knit community that cares about the club and each other.
“We’re a club that’s on the rise, and I would strongly encourage anyone who’s articulate, opinionated, and wants to get or has good speaking and critical thinking skills to come on by,” he said. “We recently got club based apparel, and we’re going to, as a result of winning Club of the Month, be throwing a pizza party that we would’ve thrown either way. We take care of our members, but our members also take care of us. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”