The Santa Monica College (SMC) student Speech and Debate Team won several awards at the Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association (PSCFA) “Warm Up” Tournament held at El Camino College on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Twelve SMC students competed in this first tournament of the 2019-2020 season, including five returning team members and seven SMC students who are new to the team. Five of the new team members who competed won high-level awards in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) debate, in which each competitor engages in four rounds of one-on-one debate—with only 30 minutes to prepare before each round. Eighty nine students from 15 two-year institutions from Southern California participated in the debate competition.

SMC students Brandon Anderson, Brina Ross, Dexter Cypress, and Ruijiao “Rachel” Sun each received an “Excellent” award for winning three out of their four debate rounds. Xochitl Buenabad received a “Superior”award for winning all four rounds.

Some of the topics debated included “Pop culture does more harm than good”; “The United States should change the way it elects government officials”; “Media stations should be responsible for fake news”; and “The United States should reveal the truth about Area 51.”

“After my first championship, I’m feeling incredibly motivated and excited toward my future in debate,” said Derek Cypress, who won an “Excellent” award. “I’m beyond proud of my fellow teammates, and looking forward to the next competition!”

Fellow “Excellent” award winner Brina Ross echoed the sentiment—and had another reason to be proud: “I’m even more proud of myself for accomplishing my fear of public speaking and cannot wait for more wins . . . and to become a better public speaker!”

Brandon Anderson said that he “. . . had a feeling that I was participating with the future minds and leadership of California.”

The Associated Students of Santa Monica College sponsored the SMC Speech and Debate Team’s presence at the competition. For more information on the team, contact Nate Brown at or 310-434-8781.

Submitted by Grace Smith, SMC Media Information Officer

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