Tech students win debate championship

Two Tech underclassmen returned from Jefferson City last month with a championship title for the speech and debate team.

The pair attended the Tennessee Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Tournament, at Carson-Newman University.

Sistina Hammonds, a freshman biology major and Sarah Stansbury, a sophomore criminal justice major, bested nine teams to win the state championship of the Novice National Parliamentary Debate Association format tournament. 

Hammonds said she always wanted to be on a debate team but her high school did not have one so she joined Tech’s team with no formal experience.

The NPDA debate consisted of four preliminary rounds, semifinals and finals. Teams have 15 minutes to prepare different topics. They are judged on topical understanding, argumentation and speaking style. 

Hammonds and Stansbury won by arguing against a proposed bill requiring private employers to pay their employees at least once a month.

The two are always paired when permitted and attribute their success to their complementing personalities. 

“Her and I work really well as partners because we have opposite demeanors,” Stansbury said. “She sets everything up nice and polite, and then after the other team goes over their case, I tear it down.”

Although Hammonds and Stansbury won for their efforts, they both know the importance of the debate team as a whole. 

“I just want to emphasize the teamwork that goes into debate even if you are not personally debating,” Hammonds said. “In the final rounds it was not just Sarah and I who worked hard to win, our entire team helped us to prep and worked just as hard for this title.`” 

The team is currently preparing for the Pi Kappa Delta Nationals at Hofstra University in New York on March 20-24.