When Michael Sova ‘20 first came to campus, he sought out a community of students with similar goals of improving persuasive and argumentative skills; in other words, he was looking for a debate team. With the absence of the type of organization he desired, last December, he took initiative in establishing a debate club, which he hopes to eventually grow into a debate team.
Within the debate club, students will learn the foundations of forming and understanding arguments.
“Since the debate team is a long-term goal, the only way to get involved with the debate team is to join the debate club,” explains Sova. “Students will benefit intellectually from both the conversations that they will participate in and the arguments that they learn to build.”
As the president of the debate club, Sova currently has two primary goals: focusing on facilitating conversations on-campus, and branching out to facilitate conversations across other campuses.
“Since we do not require funding, the former of these goals will be easier to jump into right away, as we only need approval for space and coordination between those involved,” explains Sova. “The latter will take more time and money. Much like athletics or theater on campus, intercollegiate debate requires dedicated practice, a coach, travel, etc.”
While the debate club and debate team are currently synonymous for the most part, they do have different purposes and visions associated with them.
“As a new club on campus, debate club is in the planning phase, including private dialogue (test-runs) sessions between clubs on campus and working with some other campus organizations,” says Sova. “On the debate team side, we have been focused on setting down the foundation (acquiring proper funding, expanding the scope of interest and searching for a potential coach).”
Sova recognizes that since he is a junior, he most likely won’t see his vision of a debate team completely come to life during his remaining time on campus. That being said, he is really focused on trying to gain momentum and interest from both students and faculty.
He is specifically looking into departments like Political Science, Philosophy and Theatre.
“Our mission is two-fold. In terms of dialogue, we want to empower individuals on this campus to have their voices heard, to have them participate and create persuasive arguments, and overall, add to a diversity of voices throughout campus in hopes of preventing monolithic representation of ANY group,” says Sova. “For debate, we will compete in hopes of putting Muhlenberg on a new stage, one that has gone wholly unexplored in the past, and, in this pursuit, individuals will improve public-speaking skills and ability to improvise solid arguments in pressured situations.”
Overall, Sova is very excited about the prospects of this organization.
“This is the first and only organization that I have had a full say in on campus. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with everyone to expand the scope of my vision to what others see fit,” says Sova. “I cannot say what my favorite part of this organization is yet, as we have so much to do as it is, but I can say that whatever happens, I am ecstatic for the future. I believe this is not only what we need as a school, but what we need as a community.”