The SMC Debate Team after winning a national championship the Phi Rho Pi competition. Left to right: Dominic Smith, Genevieve Faherty, Coach Nate Brown, Team Captain and National Debate Champion Shaindi Schwebel, Alexys Davis, Brandon Chase, and Chern Xun Gan.

The Santa Monica College (SMC) Speech and Debate Team are national champions; team captain Shaindi Schwebel won first place in International Public Debate at the Phi Rho Pi national speech and debate tournament held April 7 – 13 in Reno, Nevada.

Schwebel competed in six preliminary rounds, advanced to and won in the semi-finals, before winning in the finals. She is in her second year on the SMC Debate Team.

In addition to Shaindi Schwebel, five other SMC students also competed at Phi Rho Pi, including Dominic Smith (Assistant Team Captain), Brandon Chase, Alexys Davis, Genevieve Faherty, and Chern Xun Gan. Most of the SMC squad competed in NPDA debate (National Parliamentary Debate Association), IPDA debate (International Public Debate Association), and Impromptu Speaking.

“Debate has enabled me to find my voice in a way I never could have imagined, and given me the chance to lead a team of brave, passionate, and intelligent people,” said Schwebel. “Going to Phi Rho Pi is a once—or twice!—in a lifetime experience that can’t be replicated. Taking home the gold in IPDA is the culmination not only of my hard work, but of my coach’s and teammates’ as well.”

In the semi-final round, Shaindi debated on the affirmative side of this resolution: “Zoological parks are unethical.” In the final round, she debated on the opposition side of this resolution: “The United States Federal Government should call a Constitutional convention.”

Hundreds of students from 56 community colleges around the nation competed at Phi Rho Pi in a variety of events, including debate, oral interpretation, interpreter’s theatre, platform speaking and limited preparation speaking.

The SMC Debate Team’s presence at this tournament was sponsored by an SMC Foundation Chair of Excellence grant, the Associated Students of Santa Monica College, and Santa Monica College.

Submitted by Grace Smith, SMC Public Information Officer

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