The Roosevelt Debate Society is a new addition to a long list of existing clubs at Roosevelt. Led by freshmen Maddy Hoffman and Sage Gunning, Debate Society hopes to build on a former, unofficial debate club by introducing structured discussions about a wide range of topics.

The co-presidents have a shared interest in debate and are hoping to allow other Roosevelt students to share their own ideas and improve their strategies for engaging in civil discussion. “During the summer, we took a mock trial camp, so that was an introduction to debate,” remarked Hoffman. “Maddy and I debate a lot of things together. We have very different views on everything,” added Gunning. One of the club’s main goals is to explore opposite viewpoints. “We want to understand the other side, and we think that it is really important to learn how to articulate your ideas,” commented Hoffman.

Club meetings take place every other Wednesday in the upper commons. The club held its first meeting earlier this month. Hoffman mentioned, “We had a really good turnout, and I think a lot of people enjoyed it.” After outlining their goals and creating a schedule for discussion topics, their upcoming meeting on February 24th will be on whether animals should be kept in zoos. Although earlier subjects like cats versus dogs were rather light, the club hopes to discuss more serious matters at future meetings, like immigration and the death penalty. “Maddy and I really wanted to create a club that was structured and fun. We also wanted to talk about controversial topics,” stated Gunning. While the club stages structured debates, participants are not required to research the topic in advance. “We’re going to give people time to come up with their own argument, and we’re going to have templates too. People are going to be able to write in their arguments and their evidence, so there is less thinking of it on the spot, and more thinking it through,” explained Hoffman.

Membership in the Debate Society is open to everyone, regardless of experience. “This year it’s about getting the structure and getting a lot of people to join. Maybe in the future we’ll have sort of formal debates with other schools,” noted Gunning.  Hoffman and Gunning see Debate Society continuing for their upcoming years at Roosevelt. The club’s second meeting will be taking place on Wednesday, February 24th from 7-7:40 a.m. in the upper commons.

You can learn more about Roosevelt’s Debate Society here.

Featured Picture: Freshman Sage Gunning, left, and Maddy Hoffman, right, are the founders of the Debate Society. Photo by Ruby Hale

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