ACP’s First Policy Debate Team: Abhinav Saxena and Sandro Lynch

ACPs First Policy Debate Team: Abhinav Saxena and Sandro Lynch

The Speech and Debate program has opened up a new event to the public: Policy debate. Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two usually advocate for and against a resolution that typically calls for policy change by the United States federal government. At the Jackrabbit Jamboree Tournament, our policy team of two sophomores placed third in the entire tournament, which is an extraordinary achievement considering that it was a big tournament with lots of different teams from different schools and states. Today, we’ll be chatting with Abhinav Saxena and Sandro Lynch, the dynamic duo of ACP’s Policy team, about their success at the Jackrabbit Jamboree Tournament.

Q: Since Policy Debate has only been recently revived by the younger generation of debaters, what made you want to get into this type of debate? What are some things that you learned from Policy that you didn’t learn about in other types of debate?

Abhinav: I wanted to do Policy debate because there is only one topic for the year and you could interpret the topic however you want. In other debates you have to say we affair, or we negate. In policy, I can say that my plan is to exterminate the industries that cause pollution and then, the debate is focused on that idea. There is a lot more freedom, which encourages innovation. Policy debate has taught me to be able to think on the spot, recall current events, and use them as arguments against my opponent’s case. I’ve also learned how to research effectively during my round because there isn’t a fixed list of arguments and there is only so much time to find something to either support your case or refute.

Sandro: Policy requires an understanding of both the moral and political aspects of life. Policy is a combination of morals and planning, so one’s understanding has to be broad. This is what was attractive about policy. Policy taught me that an argument doesn’t have to be factual to be valid. Evidence and warranting is what matters.

Q: Did you expect to place 3rd in the tournament overall, especially when one considers the size of this year’s tournament? Why or why not? Did the hours of preparation and mock debates help prepare you for this moment?

Abhinav: I did expect to go past the preliminary rounds; however, I was hoping to make it to first.

Sandro: I did not expect to break to Semi-finals, and I was so surprised that we did, considering that our team had never broken in Policy debate in ACP history. The preparation was definitely an aid to our victories, and we would have never placed so high had we lacked it.

Q: In your personal opinion, what makes Policy Debate different and much more unique compared to other forms of debate and speech? What are the advantages of having a year-long topic to research on compared to different topics per season like the other forms?

Abhinav: Compared to other forms of debate, policy allows you to run any sort of case. For example, in policy you can say that rivers should be considered people and you can win. You can also say that humans should just go extinct. In other debates like pf, the judges won’t ever accept arguments like that. In ld you have to waste debating on how morality should be determined.

Sandro: Policy debate is much more intense in and out-of-round than any other debate. The speed of the speeches and the amount of the information in each speech is intimidating for a novice. A year-long topic allows for arguments to evolve throughout the whole year. Contrary to the belief that a single topic would be boring, having only one topic allows for the most interesting arguments. For example, I’ve heard the argument that “Rivers are people.”

Q: Do you do any other events in Speech and Debate? If so, what are they and what are some key points you’ve learned from participating in them? What about extracurriculars? Do you partake in any other activities outside of school and if so, what are they and how long have you been doing them and why?

Abhinav: I do extemporaneous speaking and it has helped me speed up my research time.

Sandro: I participate in Duo interpretation and the CTSO film program. These activities have taught me the incredible value of storytelling even when having a debate. If you can present your case as a story, it makes it easier for the judge to listen to you.

Q: What is one thing that the Speech and Debate community has taught you on a personal level and one thing that the community taught you as a debater?

Abhinav: Speech and debate has taught me to be more confident in myself and has helped me learn how to express my viewpoints.

Sandro: The speech and debate community has revealed that the fulfillment of helping others to succeed is a wonderful feeling. A team is strongest when everyone builds each other up. Learning to collaborate and take feedback is a critical skill in all of life. The community has taught me that you ALWAYS back up your claim with evidence. Evidence is the glue that holds an argument together.