Western’s debate team attended the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, March 20-22, at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. The sophomore duo of Chris Miles and Michael Smith were the sole representatives of Missouri Western at the tournament, due to the team’s loss of coaches and substantial drop in membership.
The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence is recognized as one of the most prestigious debate competitions in the nation, by exclusively inviting schools ranked in the nation’s top 65 debate programs. Western’s team is currently ranked 38th in the nation.
Debate Team Captain Chris Miles was proud of the overall ranking of the team after such a difficult season.
“It was a tough competition, from it being a down semester for us due to the loss of Sohail. We pooled the resources we had and we worked a bit with the friends we had in the [debate] community and were able to still have a very successful season,” Miles said.
Former Western debate coach Sohail Jouya won the tournament coaching Kansas City Kansas Community College. Jouya was removed from his position last semester on an administrative technicality. Fortunately, the team holds no harsh feelings towards the nationally ranked coach, and hopes to work with him again in the future.
“Sohail won the national championship with KCKCC, and that is actually something we are very proud of. The ties Mike and I have to KCKCC are very strong and there aren’t any hard feelings about it. If anything, it’s a testament to the work that he has put in over the season, not only helping us, but to be helping the other teams he has worked with,” Miles said.
Fellow debater Matthew Glover was excited to support Miles and Smith, but remains concerned for the future of the very small program.
“Chris and Mike were very impressive with their critical debate; they are now ranked 38th in the nation, which is fantastic. They are both awesome speakers, but with our current situation as a team, I’m not sure where the program is going. We still don’t have a debate coach, so that is very frustrating. Schartel Dunn is our advisor, but because she doesn’t have any experience with these kind of programs, she won’t be affiliated with us next semester. Because of our lack of a coach and the drop in our numbers I’m not sure that there will be a debate program next semester,” Glover said.
The debate program is still searching for a permanent head coach. Current debate sponsor Stephanie Schartel Dunn, while present for the tournament, declined to comment on the current status of the debate program.