Last week, the debate team returned from a successful first major tournament of the year.

The tournament was hosted by Georgia State University and included over 100 teams from dozens of schools around the country.

“Our top team had a strong finish at 25th,” said William Mosley-Jensen, director of debate, in an interview via email. “Over the course of the weekend, our squad of 12 debaters defeated teams from Harvard, Northwestern, Emory, Michigan State and Wake Forest University (among others).”

That top team, consisting of juniors Nathan Rothenbaum and Maggie Solice, was competing in the open division of the tournament against 112 teams from 37 Division I schools. They competed in a style of debate that is recognized as the most academically rigorous form of debating. Rothenbaum was also ranked 19th individually out of a field of 224 competitors.

“I knew that we would do well because, as a team, we had conducted thousands of hours of research to prepare, and we have amazing coaches,” Solice said.

“We’ve spent literally the past two months researching the topic and reading hundreds of academic articles,” Rothenbaum said.

This research process started well before the year began.

“Preparing for a tournament begins in the summer when we first get our topic,” Solice said.  “The research is basically the equivalent of writing a term paper every two weeks.”

This year’s topics of debate include the costs and benefits of legalization of controversial activities.

“The resolution is about legalizing one or more of the topics on a list, including marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, online gambling and organ sales,” Rothenbaum said.

The debate team will compete in its next competition this weekend in Ogden, Utah. The tournament was very selective.

“It is a closed tournament that only invites a select group of approximately 32 nationally competitive teams,” Solice said.

The debate team looks forward to more success in this year.

“I am really excited for the team prospects,” Mosley-Jensen said. “We have a young team and have been working hard on our current topic since July. We think the team is really ripe for a revival.”