Chicago Debate League

Stephani Lopez

A student learns from many more places than just their classroom. A school’s debate team is one of those places. The Chicago Debate League (CDL) is in charge of organizing tournaments and competitions for the city of Chicago. Unfortunately, due to recent budget cuts at the CDL, debaters have been forced to face several new problems.

One of the most prevalent it is the funding for spaces and judges.

“The Senn tournament has definitely seen the negative effects of this observation since most debate teams didn’t get to compete in the normative five preliminary rounds because of a lack of rooms and/or judges,” said senior Von Steuben debater Jorell Ellazar.

The CDL has had no choice but to look for low cost alternatives for their tournament location all the while teams are encouraged to increase.

“The Von Steuben Debate Team has been the biggest it has been thus far with 30 members competing at the Senn tournament,” said Ellazar.

The Phoenix Debate team is no different.

“Currently there is a total of 23 members on the debate team, 12 varsity members and 11 junior varsity members,” said senior Alexis Garcia, from Phoenix.

Many believe that this is the reason why the CDL is having trouble funding the tournaments. An influx of students means that overall there is less of everything to go around.

“Von Steuben, is adding on to the stress of the CDL,” said Ellazar

With such a high volume of kids one can question what steps the CDL is doing to properly manage the tournaments.

“They’ve always been a consistent mixed bag” says King College Prep senior debater Jacky Chow. He also explained how poorly time managed the tournaments have been where sometimes the food is late or rounds begin later than expected.

Others have mixed feeling about it. The CDL is responsible for making a tournament work smoothly and without a hitch, but can they do this without the proper funding?

“ I think they are doing the best they can but they can do much better. The CDL is trying to do the best with the limited about of resources by still trying to keep kids engaged, however I think that some tournaments get more funding than others.” said senior Mayra Deleon from Phoenix

Is it fair that lower level conferences are being underfunded in order to fund higher ones? What is the thinking behind every tournament? What is the CDL doing to minimize the effect of budget cuts? How much was the budget cut?

PMA journalism decided to ask the CDL director of programs, David Song, all of the pending questions. However, a comment was declined.

Many fear that the problems aren’t being solved, and, ultimately, the CDL will be shut down. This would be a shame for several reasons. Debate has become a huge part of the lives of it’s participants.

“Because of debate, I am earning respect from my classmates and teachers. In school, I find myself knowing things my teachers don’t and, in turn, has made me stand out in class and made stressful assignments like essay writing a lot easier.” said Ellazer

It helps student find their voice.

“Debate has helped me have a voice and advocate for issues I deeply care about. Debate has helped found my interest in Law and Women’s Rights.” said Deleon
Debate guides students to their vocation.

“Personally debate has influenced me in what major and career to choose like law or political science.” said Garcia.
Overall, debate lets students try different experiences.

“I think better at this point in life because of debate. And on topic experience I had in debate is when I won finals in T3 which was pretty cool.” said Chow.

The CDL has left a mark on the lives of those who have participated in it since it was founded in 1995. Without it many students would be left without an outlet to debate Students would be left without a place where their opinion on political issues matter. Most importantly, students would be left without the option to join an academic activity rather than a sport.

Yes, debate is a space where students can learn outside of their classrooms. Lets not let it collapse.