Rising To The Debate: Cleveland State Shines In Cornell Invitational

Rising To The Debate: Cleveland State Shines In Cornell Invitational

Friday, November 20, 2020 12:00 AM

(Cleveland, Tennessee) – Home to several former winners of the World Debating Championships, Cornell University saw some of the top stars of Cleveland State Community College leave its mark on an invitation-only speech and debate contest they hosted November 7. The Cleveland State Speech and Debate Team placed four students in the top 10 of the contest during the college’s Big Red Advocacy Intercollegiate Network (B.R.A.I.N.) Conference and Tournament.

Cleveland, Tennessee’s Donnie Burnette led the way for the Cougars with a third-place finish in the International Debate Association Contest which was held online this year. Brooke Bargeron (Ocoee), Katie Rockhill (Cleveland), and Caleb Spires (Cleveland) also placed in the top 10 of the event.

Among some of the universities and colleges taking part were the host Cornell University, Seton Hall University, Hofstra University, and Spelman College. A strong showing at the CyberFalcon Speech and Debate Tournament at Bowling Green State University (KY) on October 17 earned the Cleveland State standouts invitations to the Ithaca, New York-based event.

However, due to the pandemic, the event was held online in real time. “If one of the competitors messed up, there is no ability to edit it,” said Laurie Rowland, Cleveland State Community College Speech and Debate Team Advisor. “The pressure is the same because a competitor still has to listen intently and catch all of the arguments and points that the other debater is making while being clear enough that the judge understands their own argument.”

More than 100 individuals from teams across the country earned invitations to the event. "I am extremely proud of our team. They took on not only large universities in a region we usually don't compete in, but they did it in a type of debate we have never participated in before and did it well,” added Rowland. “We have been invited to compete in the Northeast Region again in the spring, as well as the Upper Midwest region. Our Cleveland State team is making a national name for itself.”

The Cougar Speech and Debate Team will next compete in an online tournament in New York City on January 8. "I received compliments from other coaches who judged our team on our preparation and articulation in our debate rounds,” said Rowland.

For more information, contact Cleveland State Community College at 423.472.7141 or visit the college at ClevelandStateCC.edu. Students are currently enrolled online and on-campus through the CSCC main campus in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as CSCC’s Athens Center in Athens, Tennessee and Monroe County Center in Vonore, Tennessee.

CSCC earned the Tennessee Board of Regent’s 2019 College Of The Year. CSCC directly serves Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk Counties in Tennessee. The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving more than 140,000 students.


Partners & Initiatives

  • Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator
  • America's SBDC Tennesseey
  • Your Skills. Your Future.
  • OneSource
  • Cleveland State Sustainability Initiative
  • TBR The College System of Tennessee
  • TN eCampus
  • Tennessee Transfer Pathway