ESU hosted the two-day fifth annual Frederick Douglass Debate Tournament last week. Dr. Storm Heter served both as tournament host and debate coach for ESU’s teams. This year’s topic was health care. Participating students from several Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools debated whether or not all U.S. citizens should have the right to affordable health care.
In the U.S., 44 million American citizens reportedly do not have health insurance. A recent report by West Health and Gallup found that 45 percent of adults are afraid that a major health events could leave them bankrupt.
The debate was organized into teams of two student-debaters who either argued for the affirmative or the opposition it.
Each team was given six minutes for their opening arguments followed by cross-examinations. Both sides were given four minutes each for closing speeches. This year, ESU fielded three teams that participated in the tournament.
ESU senior Tyrone Norwood, Jr. and his partner, sophomore Shelly Moyal, did the best out of the three teams. Moyal and Norwood just missed the semifinal round by half of a point.
“If you walk into a hospital in the United States, can they turn you away? The answer is no,” Norwood said. “That automatically means that it [health care] is a right,” stated Norwood. “Yes, it is not affordable sometimes, but they can’t turn you away.”
Nordwood said, “If you look at other countries that have universal health care–not affordable and basic, but universal–it is still a stepping stone in the right direction
Norwood cited that Denmark has universal health care, and they are one of the happiest countries in the world.
“I said that in the debate, and that got me points toward the win,” stated Norwood.
Norwood then revealed his team’s arguments for the opposition.
Norwood said that health care cost is something of a double-edged sword.
“It would increase the cost of doctors, and [insurance] premiums would go up,” Norwood said.
Norwood was also very grateful to Heter. The championship round featured two teams from Millersville.
After a stirring debate, Millersville seniors Brittney Brown and Bevan Fields were crowned champions. Professor Marion Wood O’Sullivan coached Millersville’s teams.
“I am so proud of my students. I find that this experience is one of the most valuable experiences for a college student to have because we cannot rely just on how we feel, but on what we find evidence for and what we can argue specifically,” stated Wood O’Sullivan.
“The final piece of this is to be able to communicate those ideas to an audience,” O’Sullivan said. “So, there is an audience part of this, and that is the final stage of growth and connection. And I think that is where they find empowerment.”
In closing, Dr. Heter said, “I’ve had a chance to go around to the different debates as they are happening and watch people progress and watch people interact and watch people make arguments about things that matter.”
“And that’s why we are so happy to be part of the Frederick Douglass Brotherhood and Sisterhood,” stated Heter.
The Frederick Douglass Society meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 137 inside the Science and Technology Building during the semester. All students are welcome to join and debate.
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