By Sarah Hill
On Thursday night, March 5, Baylor University’s debate program will welcome the Japanese National Debate Team to campus to compete in a student debate of international import.
Dr. Matt Gerber, associate professor of communication and The Glenn. R. Capp Chair of Forensics, directs Baylor’s debate program and serves as the chair of the National Communication Association (NCA). He has been in charge of planning the debate tours of both the Japanese tour and the British teams.
“Every year or at least every couple of years, our Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum, which is the name of Baylor’s nationally ranked debate program, brings in either the Japanese national debate team or the British national debate team to host a public debate here on campus,” Gerber said. “We have them debate against our undergraduate debaters or graduate students.” This year, the Japanese team is coming to Baylor in the spring of 2020, with the British team to visit campus in the fall.
The topic for the debate will be whether quarantines and public closings are justified in containing the spread of the virus known as COVID-19. The Japanese team will argue in favor of quarantines and public closings to contain the virus, while Baylor will argue to opposing view. Gerber will be in charge of moderating the debate, but no winner will be announced.
“It’s more about the experience. We want to have a good, competitive public debate and show the Japanese students our finest Baylor hospitality,” he said. The debate will last around an hour, and is a modified version of the policy debate style used at Baylor.
Nicole Nave, graduate student in the Department of Communication and assistant coach for Baylor Debate, will be debating on Baylor’s team. Her debate partner, Jacob Smith, is also a graduate student in the Department of Communication and assistant coach for Baylor Debate. Gerber calls them the “dream team,” and for good reason — Nave won the 2017 National Debate Tournament and Cross Examination Debate Association National Championships in College Debate as an undergraduate for Rutgers-Newark, while Smith had great success in both of those tournaments as an undergraduate at Oklahoma.
The Japanese National Debate Team will consist of Yuta Watanabe and Takuto Kasahara. Watanabe, a bachelor of laws student from Waseda University, is a scholarship student of the English law and has many accolades and placements in the national tournament. Kasahara, likewise, has many accolades and is in his second year of law school at Kanazawa University.
The debate is free and open to the public, with no advance tickets required. It will take place Thursday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in Room 101 of the Castellaw Communication Center.