Dr. Maggie Wills said she was surprised to attend the first debate club meeting and not see any communication students present. Since becoming the advisor for the “Debate Society” at the end of last semester, her goal has been to recruit her Communication students to take part in this organization that is so helpful for developing skills for the future. So far, she has recruited 8 students to take part and stated, “It’s great to see them attending the meetings and honing in on their argumentation skills.” She went on to add, “It’s win-win—I think they’ll have a good foundation for presenting solid persuasive speeches in our CO 101 class, and they will also have a line on their resume that speaks to developing solid persuasive speaking skills needed for careers in PR, marketing, law, non-profits, teaching and more.”
The debate society holds it’s regular meetings on Tuesday nights in CNS 101 from 8-10pm. Interested students can drop by for pizza and join in on a debate – working on teams to develop cases in which they propose a case or serve as the opposition. Dr. Wills says, “these are informal and fun nights; only one or two people from each team (from 7-10 people on a team depending on who shows up at the meetings) have to actually get up and present the case for or against – and I’ve noticed that it’s the more regular attenders who grab that role. For the rest of the students, it’s just fun to develop and critique arguments on anything from “Should school uniforms be abolished?” to “Is marriage an important foundation in society?” On Thursday nights, those students that wish to compete meet to critically develop their arguments and presentation skills. The students are able to present in front of Dr. Wills so she can provide them with helpful feedback and advice. This past Fall marked the first time in many years that Fairfield students attended a debate tournament, and recently students attended the APDA (American Parliamentary Debate Association) tournament at The College of New Jersey.
Dr. Wills has clearly been taking steps to grow and improve the debate society. She even brought in Communication major alumnus, Mr. James Carlon, class of ’96 and a partner at Day Pitney LLC, in Stamford, to open the semester’s debate meetings with some remarks. She said, . I called on him to “lead the charge,” so to speak, as I recalled his intellect and inspirational speaking style from CO 101
in the mid-90s.” By bringing in speakers to meetings, Dr. Wills hopes to set the bar high for the debaters.
You can learn more about the Fairfield University debate society from Dr. Wills or on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/fairfielddebate.