Business Students Prepare for Debates

The School of Business held a debate preparation session to get participants ready for an upcoming series of debates that Dean of the School of Business Hadi Salavitabar believes will give students valuable experience in addition to what they receive in the classroom.

The session, which was held on Sept. 29, was intended to give students insight into what they should expect during the debates, allowing them to be better prepared to successfully support their arguments.

“Business students need to have a lot of skills beyond what they learn in the classroom,” said Salavitabar. “The debate competition provides them with the opportunity to research, to work as a team on presentation skills, [and] on debate skills. These are some of the skills they need to have in order to be ready and successful in their professional career.”

Topics vary from year to year, with past discussions covering issues such as the controversial stimulus package, international codes of business ethics and outsourcing.

“Students don’t necessarily need to have any background, the purpose is for us to teach them…We will simply help them,” Salavitabar said.

As the session went on, students were given advice on how to skillfully debate, while also being taught the correct format. Each team is assigned a stance on a topic regardless of the team members’ personal opinions, putting some students in the role of the devil’s advocate. After two rounds of debate, there is the final championship round on Nov. 17 where the winning team is declared.

There is also another incentive for students to win the debates besides good grades and fundamental skills: a small scholarship of $100 per person for the winning team.

“It helps you learn what you don’t know, while you’re still here. It’s a much better place to learn rather than out in the workforce…This is the place where you put the tools in the tool box,” said Thomas Sipos, chairman of the Business Advisory Council for the School of Business.

Sipos compared debating to three-dimensional tick-tack-toe in that a player cannot just look at his or her position, but must also look at the positions of his or her opponents and “step into the shoes of your opponents.”

The debate preparation session also advised students on certain formalities, such as research techniques, opening statements, eye contact and even how to dress for the debate.

“Everything you do is part of your message,” Sipos told students.

Some students found the session to be very helpful. Courtney Merton, a third-year accounting and finance major, said she felt more confident after the session because it gave her a view into the debates she would be participating in.

Teal Linargakis, a business graduate student, felt the session adequately prepared her for the upcoming debate.

“I think it’s fleshed out and really expressed in words what I needed to hear as far as what it will help us with, and what our goals should be,” she said.