The art of persuasion

I remember the first time I debated. I had absolutely no idea of what to do, my points were incomplete, my organization was all over the place.

And I loved it.

It's been four years of competing with my team, of waking up at 5 a.m., of missing weekends (where college students are morally obligated to rest) to travel across the state to dress up and talk in front of two or three people to see who can talk louder.

And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

After going to over 35 tournaments, last weekend I competed at a debate tournament for the last time. It was a long and great journey that in many ways I don't want to leave, but good things have to end one way or another. Besides, Pi Kappa Delta wouldn't allow me to do it more than four years. Bastards.

 One of the great reasons why I enjoy debate so much is because of how eye opening it is to multiple problems in our society.

Through speech and debate, I spend countless hours researching and reading about local, state, national and international news. Without this, I would have no idea of the multiple humanitarian crisis in the world. Of Rohingyan refugees dying in the streets of Myanmar. Of the injustices committed in federal and state courts regarding housing discrimination. Of the current state of the Trump administration.

Critical thinking and researching are key areas of this art that will stay with me forever.

I know that when I argue about increasing the amount of security resource officers in schools I won't go to Congress and present this plan to the entire nation. It's not real. But this playground of ideas and propositions is incredibly helpful for students with big ideas about the world.

Being the president of the speech and debate team has been the greatest honor I have ever held in my life. The only thing I ever wanted was to teach people how beautiful and gratifying this sport is, and I'm happy to say that I got what I wanted and so much more.

The team has changed a lot in four years. People come and go, but in many ways I still feel at home. After all, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

To those who were part of the team but no longer are, thank you. You impacted my life greatly, and I'll never forget it.

To Tyler, Josh, Derrick, Mikki, Alex, Morgan, Gavin, Augusta and Amanda, all of you have contributed more than you'll ever realize to this team.

To Dr. Kash, your patience and time were invaluable and I'll treasure them forever.

To Jacob, all I am in debate is because of you. Don't let them get too lazy next semester, will you?

Finally, to those who are not on the team (yet). It is not easy. It will eat up your time, demand everything from you and then some. But it'll be the most gratifying thing you'll ever do in college. If this sounds appealing, then you might be the right fit for PKD.

Or, you know, come to practice Monday or Wednesday at 6:30 in Henderson 004. There's still two more months left, and I'll make sure to use every single day I have.

Forensics is the great equalizer. And speech and debate is its greatest ally. Like Pi Kappa Delta says, "the art of persuasion, beautiful and just."

And I'll miss it.