Congressional debate holds virtual winter in-house tournament


Jefferson’s Congressional Debate team poses before a tournament in 2019. The team has had to adjust to support each other in a now virtual setting, such as at Saturday’s in-house. “Every time we had a national tournament or local tournament, we would always meet as a team 30 minutes before to just talk to each other, hype each other up, give each other confidence. We still do that now. We always call one hour before [tournaments] and talk to each other,” Nalluri said.

Keertana Senthilkumar, Staff Writer

On Saturday, Jan. 23, Jefferson Congressional Debate held their winter in-house tournament online. Congressional Debate holds in-house tournaments multiple times a year, primarily for novices or anyone interested in trying congressional debate. The results can be found on Tabroom here

“I participated in the winter and spring in-houses from last school year. It was definitely really helpful in getting an idea of my own abilities and where I stand,” sophomore Niki Khare said. 

Experienced debaters also found value in the in-house tournaments: they could try new types of speeches and argumentation. 

“Everyone is from TJ, competitors and judges, so the environment is supportive and a lot more comfortable than other national tournaments, and this helps people try things outside of their comfort zone,” sophomore Patrick Bai said. 

The transition to virtual tournaments and meetings is a large change for many debaters. 

“This disconnect in online debate has taken a hit to a lot of debaters’ motivation and passion, including my friends and I, so we really have to push extra hard to be empathetic and make connections [with] the people we are debating with,” Bai said. 

Despite the challenges, there is an upside. Online tournaments give students more chances to participate in debate. 

“We get a lot more opportunities to participate in tournaments that we previously couldn’t go to because for instance, [they were] way too far away… I know last year I was only able to go to like two or three. This year I went to two or three [tournaments] within the first two months,” Jefferson Congressional debate director of communications Hasita Nalluri said. 

Fortunately, Saturday’s tournament went smoothly all around. 

“The officers did an amazing job making everything work in an online setting. Most of the online tournaments I’ve been to always have some kind of massive issue with technology. This was pretty straightforward and worked really well,” Khare said. “I have a feeling online debate is going to become a lot more common even after the pandemic ends, given how accessible it is to everyone.”