As a part of my LAS cohort protocol, one of the classes that I had to take was COM 267L, Introduction to Debate. I took this class from 9:30-10:45 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with Professor Cory Hillman. In this class we learned the art of debate, and how to make effective arguments.
One of the biggest part of our debate class was, well, debating. Early in the semester we were split into groups, and my group consisted of myself, Jacob, Lucas, Kelsey and Megan. From there, we would pair up within our groups and debate within our group. One group would be the affirmative (agree with our chosen claim) and the other would be the negative (disagree with out chosen claim). The two debates that my group did during this semester were that performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in sports and all schools should be year round. It was interesting to be able to argue these topics; they are very relevant in today’s society, and it was fascinating to be able to look at both topics from all angles (no matter what side I was arguing for).
This class is not one that I would have signed up on my own, so I was really happy that I had the opportunity to take it through LAS. I learned about how to make an effective argument, and about to be able to spot a lousy one. We learned about all the different fallacies (such as ad hominem and red herring) and about how, although they may sound convincing, they do not make an effective argument. This was helpful when watching the Presidential debates during the semester. Especially in such an important election, it was interesting to be able watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and point out everything they were doing right and wrong (and there was certainly more wrong than right). I was able to tell when they were avoiding the questions, when they used red herring to divert form the actual argument, and I knew that their shouting was the opposite of what a debate should be.
Not everything will be solved through argumentation, but learning how to argue effectively could help solve many of the problems in society today. By learning all the ins and outs of debate, I can now say with confidence that I have the ability to settle disagreements with people civilly, as well as have the ability to hear things from both sides.