NACOGDOCHES, Texas - With spring around the corner, the Stephen F. Austin State University Debate Team is warming up to host the first SFA/Lee College "Spring Swing Debate Tournament."

Debate teams from SFA and Lee College, located in Baytown, will co-host the tournament March 8-10. All students and faculty and staff members are invited to attend the debates and/or volunteer to help organize or judge the event.

More than 200 students and faculty members from universities in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee are expected to compete in the International Public Debate Association event.

"We are expecting students from more than 10 schools to enjoy a weekend of fun and educational competition," said Kimberly Squyres, SFA lecturer and director of debate. "In the spirit of IPDA, we invite all community members, students, faculty, staff and their families to come and watch a few rounds or to even help judge some of the competition."

IPDA relies on lay judges in the competitions for fairness and for educational purposes.
Two single competitors face each other in a 26-minute round, arguing over topics ranging from politics to pop culture. Each competitor is allowed 30 minutes to prepare his or her case for the round, and participants are not told the topics ahead of time. Each competitor debates 14 different topics for a total of 14 rounds.

The tournament will begin the morning of Friday, March 8, and awards and final rounds determining the tournament champion will be held the afternoon of Sunday, March 10. Lee College will host the first half of the tournament with seven preliminary rounds, and SFA will host the second half of the tournament, also with seven preliminary rounds.

Although the tournament falls on the first weekend of spring break, many students already have committed to compete, judge or help, but more are needed. Some faculty members may offer extra-credit opportunities for students who assist.

The mission of academic debate at SFA is to provide an educational forum for students, enabling them to improve their communication skills outside the classroom, both formally and informally, through public speaking and interpersonal communication; to instill in each student a sense of competition, ethics and fairness; to have fun while traveling and gaining life experiences; and to promote SFA and its community as good citizens, good students and excellent communicators.

The SFA Debate Team has a prestigious history, having earned many awards and several national championships. The teams are open to students who are taking at least six credit hours have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5.

For more information, contact Squyres at (936) 468-1086 or