Debaters Rock Wyoming "Top of the Rockies" Tournament

The Truman Forensic Union launched its 2007-2008 season with an impressive placement at the University of Wyoming’s Top of the Rockies tournament, Sept. 15-17. Among programs entered in the tournament’s two debate divisions, Truman was ranked third behind Washburn University which is located in Topeka, Kan., and the University of the Pacific which is located in Stockton, Calif. 

Sarah Backhaus, a freshman political science major from Liberty, Mo., and Kara Mohs, a freshman biology major from Winterset, Iowa, reached the semifinals of the junior varsity division of parliamentary debate and concluded their long run through the tournament at approximately 1 a.m. Monday morning in a debate over energy policy. 

Backhaus was ranked fifth-best speaker in the division, which was composed of 36 teams and 72 individual students from throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions. 

In open division parliamentary debate, the team of Sara Archer, a senior accounting major who is from Riverside, Mo., and Chris Girouard, a junior communication major from Chesterfield, Mo., joined the team of Mark Buchheit, a sophomore history major from Carthage, Mo, and Dylan Rothermel, a senior economics major from Homewood, Ill., in the double-octafinals. The field was composed of 108 speakers and 54 teams.  

Parliamentary debaters engage in a different debate topic each round—usually on matters of public policy. During the course of the weekend, Truman debaters engaged topics relating to two different Supreme Court decisions, the proposed Access for Afghan Women Act, and the revocation of the “designated hitter” rule in major league baseball, among other questions.  

In Lincoln-Douglas debate, Rothermel staged a come-from-behind victory in the open division, defeating the top-seeded debater, from Washburn University, in the double-octafinal round, eventually advancing to the quarterfinals (elite-eight) of the tournament. Mohs advanced to the octafinals (sweet sixteen) of the junior division. Archer was ranked sixth-best speaker in the open division.  

Unlike parliamentary debaters who clash on a different topic each round, Lincoln-Douglas debaters speak on a yearlong topic addressing U.S. aid to the countries of the Greater Horn of Africa. During the course of the weekend, Truman debaters addressed questions related to the diplomatic recognition of Somaliland, veterinary assistance programs to African farmers, and micro credit programs, among other issues.  

For more information on Truman Forensics, visit the program’s Web site at The Truman Forensic Union is open to all interested students without regard to previous experience. It is a co-curricular program affiliated with the Department of Communication. 
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