FCLC’s Gannon Speech and Debate Team Wins


Gannon Speech and Debate Team, Fordham’s only policy debate team, completed its most competitive season, amassing 10 awards. ( Christina Frasca/The Observer)

Published: May 5, 2010

The Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) Gannon Speech and Debate club won 10 awards this year.It is FCLC’s only debate team and Fordham University’s only policy debate team. Asha Cherian, the head coach and faculty advisor of the team said, “This year Gannon Speech and Debate completed its most successful competitive season yet, amassing 10 team and individual distinctions, a record high for Gannon in one year. Their most distinguished awards this year included Top Speaker in the JV division at the University of Vermont Tournament in September 2009; Second Place Team, JV division at the UMass-Amherst Tournament in February 2010 and First Place Team/Tournament Champion for the JV Division at the Western Connecticut State University Tournament in November 2009.”The team has competed in the Northeast and all over the country, debating a variety of topics that include but are not limited to gender theory, environmentalism, feminism, post colonialism and imperialism.

According to Cherian, policy debate is a two-on-two switchside, which means that each participant will debate as both affirmative and negative throughout each tournament, multiple division—which inlcudes Novice, Junior Varsity and Varsity—evidence-based form of competitive debate.

Michael Landon, FCLC ’13 and current member of the debate team, said, “This year our JV team won  First Place at the West Connecticut Tournament, which was a huge upset to the team we beat in finals, fellow Jesuit university Boston College… Hopefully with some influx of new blood next year, we can do even greater things.”

Sean Frey, FCRH ’13 and Top Speaker winner of the September tournament, said, “I can imagine a life after college not competing in debate, but I can’t imagine a life never having competed in debate.” He said that he was sure he wanted to attend a school that had a policy debate program and almost didn’t come to Fordham because he didn’t think it had one. After Frey found out that FCLC had one, he said that he joined the team without regret. In addition, he said, “After seeing many of my friends languish about missing policy debate in college, it is clear to me that it is an activity like no other and one that stays with you no matter what. “

Cherian said, “Our team’s successes are Fordham University’s successes. None of it would be possible without the continued support of Fr. Grimes, Dorothy Wenzel and the Student Activities Budget Committee (SABC).”

Beyond the competitive side of being a part of the debate team, the overall knowledge, techniques, and people that the team members have met have become a rewarding experience. Landon said, “As a freshman this year, my experience in debate was pretty amazing; it’s so much fun to travel around the country meeting people and competing.”

Ariane Nomikos, FCLC ’10 and current vice president of the debate team, said, “Joining Fordham’s debate team as a freshman was probably the best decision I ever made.” She said that the team has given her “a means to self-knowledge,” and, “Being forced to argue both sides of arguments concerning controversial issues such as capitalism, race, gender theory and white privilege has given me the opportunity to form as well as reshape my opinions and beliefs concerning many different issues.”

Cherian said, “Debate is a game of strategy with no rules, only conventions… This renders the tournament debate space an intellectual and artistic playground, one equally suited to productive forms of work and play.”

Furthermore, “In an art history class, you may be asked to role-play an art historian, unearthing questions and answers from that perspective,” Cherian said. “[But] at a college policy debate tournament, you choose your own adventure, embodying the role of policymaker in one round and critic in the next.”

Cherian said, “Each year our team strives to diversify its research efforts beyond the years prior, exploring multiple philosophical aporias within each year’s national college debate topic in an effort to dig up alternatives; the beginnings of answers to real world problematics [and] light where dominant forms of knowledge production… tell us only darkness exists.”

The Gannon Speech and Debate team’s trophy case is displayed on the eighth floor of Lowenstein. The debate team is recruiting for the Fall 2010 semester.  Cherian said that the team is offering pre-semester debate camp in the fall from September 2-5 before classes start. More information can be found at [email protected]

“Abandon former understandings of ‘inter-disciplinary’ all ye who enter here,” Cherian said. “Whether you’re interested in learning all about statesmen, violent revolutionaries or cyborgs, I’ll teach you about it, from the lens you’re most interested in exploring.”