The rivalry between Howard University and Hampton University heated up Oct. 18 when the two HBCUs debate teams squared off in a battle of intellect.

The teams tackled the controversial topics of social media privacy and Stand Your Ground laws.

The verbal joust took place at Cramton Auditorium on Howard’s campus and featured intense rhetoric, quick-fire responses and even a few personal barbs as both teams sought to win over the crowd.

The Howard-Hampton “special exhibition” debate began with the coin flip by moderator Gregory Carr, Ph.D., a Howard professor. Hampton won the toss, allowing the team to choose its topic. The Hampton competitors opted to argue in favor of repealing Stand Your Ground laws, which gained notoriety when they were widely discussed after the slaying of Black teenager Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman.

Hampton debaters described the law as a failed policy.

“ opens the door of misconceptions and prejudice amongst Americans,” Hampton debater Ivana Thomas said.

Howard debaters, in their uphill battle to defend the laws, said the goal should be to amend Stand Your Ground legislation, not to repeal them outright, because of self-defense concerns.

“At times, people are threatened for their lives,” said Howard debater, Abraham Williamson, who is also president of the team.

The teams also debated whether prospective employers should have access to students’ social media accounts. Howard debater Jarrell Blakemore said the policies infringe on students’ personal lives and privacy.

At stake wasn’t a giant trophy or a fat check. This contest was strictly about bragging rights. In exhibition-style debating, neither side is selected the winner.

The debate left the major question of the day unanswered: Which of the two HUs is the “Real HU.”

The rivalry continues.

Shakaria Buckson

Special to the AFRO from Howard University